A hurricane's strength is normally described as being in one of five categories. These categories have been extracted from the SAFFIR-SIMPSON Hurricane Scale and are listed below along with the wind strengths and potential damage to be experienced.
Winds 74 to 95 miles per hour (mph). Damage primarily to shrubbery, tree foliage, poorly constructed items, and unanchored mobile homes. Storm Surges 4' to 5' above normal tide levels. Low lying coastal roads inundated, minor pier damage, and some small craft torn from moorings in exposed anchorage.
Winds 96 to 110 mph. Considerable damage to tree and shrubbery foliage. Some trees blown down. Major damage to poorly constructed items and some damage to other structures (such as roofing material) .Storm Surge of 6' to 8' above normal tide levels. Low lying escape routes and coastal roads cut by rising water 7 to 8 hours before arrival of the hurricanes center. Considerable damage to piers and marinas flooded. Small craft in unprotected anchorage torn from moorings. Evacuation of some shoreline residences and low lying areas required.
Winds 111 to 130 mph. Foliage torn from trees and large trees blown down. Poorly constructed items destroyed, damage to roofing materials windows, and doors expected. Mobile homes destroyed and some structural ?damage to small 9uildings. Storm Surge 9' to 12' above normal tide levels. Serious flooding at coast and small structures located there destroyed. Larger structures near coast damaged by battering waves and floating debris. Low lying escape routes cut by rising water 9 to 10 hours prior to hurricane center arrival. Major erosion to beaches and massive evacuation of all residences within 500 yards of beach and single story residences on low ground within 2 miles of shore.
Winds 131 to 155 mph. Shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Extensive damage to roofing materials, windows and doors. Complete failure of roofs on many small residences. Storm Surge 13' to 17' above normal tide levels. Flat terrain 2 feet or less above sea level flooded up to 6 miles inland. Major damage to lower floors of structures near shore due to flooding and battering of waves and debris. Low lying escape routes inland cut by rising water 11 to 12 hours prior to hurricane center arrival.
Winds greater than 155 mph. Damage as above plus complete failure of roofs on may residential and industrial buildings. Extensive shattering of window and door glass. Many complete building failures and small buildings overturned or blown away. Storm Surge grater than 18' above normal tidal levels. Low lying escape routes inland cut by rising water 12 to 13 hours before hurricane center arrival. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low grounds within 5 to 10 miles of shore possibly required.