You can expect all hurricanes and tropical systems to produce weather conditions consistent with high winds, torrential rains, and flooding at different levels depending upon the category level and how far away from the center of circulation or eye you are.
The caveat here is that all tropical cyclones cause dangerous weather, both at the center and many dozens of miles away from the center.
Additionally, you can expect some level of damage depending on category level and distance both near the eye and away from the center.
But, what’s interesting about these forces of nature is that while one neighborhood in the same city can see devastating structural damage, another just down the road can see minimal damage.
One neighborhood can see impacts of a waterspout, while another doesn’t.
One neighborhood can see major flooding, while another portion of the same city sees minimal rain and flooding.
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Hurricanes are completely unpredictable both in movement and what types of damage and conditions they unleash.
With this in mind, in a Category 1 storm you can expect winds of at least 74 mph with higher gusts, storm surge, rain, and some roof and siding damage, as well as electricity outages.
In a Category 2 hurricane, you can expect winds of at least 96 mph with higher gusts, and extensive structural damage, higher storm surge, and complete power outages for many days or weeks.
In a Category 3 tropical system, you can expect winds of at least 111 mph with higher gusts causing devastating roof, siding, and structural damage, major flooding, and extensive and prolonged power and utility outages.
In a Category 4 hurricane, expect winds of at least 130 mph with higher gusts causing catastrophic impacts to structures, roads, and the utility and electrical grid.
In a Category 5 system, expect winds of at least 157 mph with catastrophic impacts lasting many weeks to most infrastructure.
Preparation Is The Key
Here is the good news.
No matter what these systems are capable of producing, do produce, and no matter how benign or intense they are, the key here is early planning, preparations, and education.
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If you’ve completed all your preparations, and you’ve done all your education on these storms, you know your threshold on evacuation, you know your home and physical surrounding (waterfront home), then you will be fine no matter what happens.
Plan for the worst and plan for the unexpected.
This is the key to experiencing this weather event with minimal interruptions to your life.
One last thing, education and preparation is not just for people living along the coast, or who live on waterways.
All the same preparations and education for coastal residents applies to people living a hundred miles inland which is where these systems typically go after landfall.
Please do not let your guard down by focusing on the center of circulation.
Now it’s your turn to talk with us using the discussion form below. What needs to be added to this article which we did not address? What else does someone moving to the Gulf or Atlantic coast need to know?