Storm & Hurricane Preparation in South Carolina

What to Expect From Each Hurricane Category

Hurricanes fall into five categories on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, indicating the storm’s severity. Hurricanes that reach Category 3 and above have high winds and heavy rainfall that can result in property damage and the loss of life. Understanding the different hurricane categories can help you better prepare for future storms so you can protect your property and family.

1. Category 1

Category 1 hurricanes are the mildest, but they can still cause damage. These hurricanes can reach wind speeds between 74 to 95 miles per hour, possibly destroying gutters, siding and roofs. These winds can also knock over weaker trees, which can fall onto buildings. Some areas may experience several days of power outages after a Category 1 hurricane.

2. Category 2

Category 2 hurricanes have a moderate risk of damage, and wind speeds can range between 96 to 110 miles per hour. These high winds can result in severe property damage, and some trees may become uprooted or broken, causing them to fall onto homes and businesses. Power outages are also more likely, affecting property owners for several days or weeks.

3. Category 3

Category 3 hurricanes have wind speeds between 111 to 129 miles per hour, which can devastate homes and businesses. Some properties may experience damage to exterior walls and loss of roof structure, increasing the potential for interior flooding. Category 3 hurricanes can also cause loss of power and clean drinking water, lasting from a few days to a few weeks.

4. Category 4

Category 4 hurricanes are extreme, with winds reaching speeds between 130 to 156 miles per hour. Most buildings in the storm’s path will become uninhabitable and damaged beyond repair. Power will also go out, lasting for weeks to months until utility companies restore infrastructure.

5. Category 5

Category 5 hurricanes are the most catastrophic, destroying most framed homes with winds reaching 157 miles per hour or more. Power outages will last weeks to months, and large parts of the area will become uninhabitable for long periods. Category 5 hurricanes have the highest loss of life, typically when people don’t evacuate in time for the storm.

Section Image


To learn how to better prepare for a potential power outage, check out the 3 Simple Steps to take when Planning for a Temporary Emergency.


See how the Cat® Rental Power network came together in 2016 to provide a strong, coordinated response to those affected by Hurricane Matthew.