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Florence is a Category 4 hurricane. What does that mean?

Here’s what hurricane categories mean — and how much damage to expect

Hurricane categories are used by the National Hurricane Center to gauge a hurricane's strength and predict potential property damage with each storm. Here's how the NHC defines each hurricane category — and how much damage each strength can cause.
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Hurricane categories are used by the National Hurricane Center to gauge a hurricane's strength and predict potential property damage with each storm. Here's how the NHC defines each hurricane category — and how much damage each strength can cause.

“The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed,” according to the National Hurricane Center. It is designed to estimate potential property damage based on the severity of the wind.

Hurricane Florence is a Category 4 storm. Here is the NHC’s definition of the effects of a Category 4:

“Winds (1-min sustained winds in mph): 130-156 mph

Summary: Catastrophic damage will occur.

People, livestock and pets: There is a very high risk of injury or death to people, livestock, and pets due to flying and falling debris.

Mobile Homes: Nearly all older (pre- 1994) mobile homes will be destroyed. A high percentage of newer mobile homes also will be destroyed.

Frame Homes: Poorly constructed homes can sustain complete collapse of all walls as well as the loss of the roof structure. Well- built homes also can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Extensive damage to roof coverings, windows, and doors will occur. Large amounts of windborne debris will be lofted into the air. Windborne debris damage will break most unprotected windows and penetrate some protected windows.

Apartments, Shopping Centers, and Industrial Buildings: There will be a high percentage of structural damage to the top floors of apartment buildings. Steel frames in older industrial buildings can collapse. There will be a high percentage of collapse to older unreinforced masonry buildings.

High-Rise Windows and Glass: Most windows will be blown out of high-rise buildings resulting in falling glass, which will pose a threat for days to weeks after the storm.

Signage, Fences, and Canopies: Nearly all commercial signage, fences, and canopies will be destroyed.

Trees: Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.

Power and Water: Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Long-term water shortages will increase human suffering. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. “

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