What is a Hurricane? The Latest on Harvey and Irma

By: Marcus Brown

We all hear the term hurricane and think of big tropical storms. However, have you ever thought about what the term hurricane actually means?  Well, hurricanes, also known as cyclones, are violent storms measured by the strength or speed of their winds. Hurricanes are mainly measured in terms of strength. Category 1 sustains winds up to 74-95 mph. Category 2 sustains winds up to 96-110 mph. The next three levels are considered major because of the devastation they produce.  Category 3 has winds 111-129 mph. Category 4 has winds up to 130-156 mph. Category 5 sustained winds up to 157 mph and higher. Historically, about sixteen tropical storms form in the Atlantic Ocean each year. Half of these become what we know as hurricanes. We have already witnessed nine tropical storms turn into hurricanes and we still have plenty of time before hurricane season is over. Lots of damage was done from Hurricane Harvey. Houses were swept away from the flood waters and many buildings were destroyed. Many people were devastated to see what wreckage the hurricane caused.  With Hurricane Harvey battering parts of Texas and Irma submerging the Florida Keys, an estimated $200 billion dollars will be going towards Hurricane Irma while $180 billion dollars will go towards Harvey. More recently, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico as a Category 5 storm, leaving the island without power or even a grid, limited food and fresh water, and less attention from the media, charities, and the federal government.


Category 1

74-95 mph

Roof damages, short term power outages, downed trees etc.

Category 2

96-110 mph

Significant structural damage to apartment buildings, mobile homes, shopping centers. Low lying areas may have flooding.

Category 3

111-130 mph

Poorly constructed homes may be destroyed. Power may be lost for days or weeks. Inland flooding may occur etc.

Category 4

131-155 mph

Severe damage may be done to houses and apartments. Long term power/water outages last from a few weeks or months.

Category 5

155 mph or greater

Complete or almost complete destruction of mobile homes, frame homes, apartments or shopping centers. Power outages may last for weeks or possibly months.