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Hurricane Categories

CATEGORY 1

Winds: 74 to 95 mph

Damage: Minimal; signs, unanchored mobile homes, tree branches power lines blown down, some coastal flooding. Central pressure will be 28.94 inches or more and will be accompanied by a 4- to 5-foot storm surge.

CATEGORY 2

Winds: 96 to 110 mph

Damage: Moderate; larger signs, roofs, doors, windows, mobile homes, small boats, some flooding, tree branches blown down. Pressure 28.50 to 28.93 inches accompanied by a storm surge of 6 to 8 feet.

CATEGORY 3

Winds: 111 to 130 mph

Damage: Extensive; minor damage to buildings, some walls fail, mobile homes, trees blown down. Flooding washes away smaller coastal structures. Flooding up to 8 miles inland. Pressure 27.91 to 28.49 inches accompanied by a storm surge of nine to 12 feet.

CATEGORY 4

Winds: 131 to 155 mph

Damage: Extreme; almost total destruction of doors, windows. Some wall and roof failure. Major damage to lower floors of oceanfront buildings. Evacuations up to 6 miles inland. Pressure 27.17 to 27.90 inches accompanied by a storm surge of 13 to 18 feet.

CATEGORY 5

Winds: Above 155 mph

Damage: Catastrophic; buildings, roofs, structures destroyed. Flooding up to 10 miles inland, evacuation of area. Pressure less than 27.17 inches accompanied by a storm surge higher than 18 feet.

Most hurricane deaths occur from drowning. Within the storm's eye a violent drop in pressure has a "plunger" effect on the sea, indirectly creating what is known as a storm surge. Other factors such as wind strength, coastal topography and speed of the storm's motion more directly affect the surge's capacity. Walls of water 30 feet high are generated and radiate outward, flooding low coastal areas and beachfront property.