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Category 1Category 1 storms usually cause no significant structural damage to building structures; however, they can topple unanchored mobile homes, as well as uproot or snap trees. Poorly attached roof shingles or tiles can blow off. Coastal flooding and pier damage are often associated with Cat 1 storms. Examples: Hurricane Alice (1954), Danny (1985), Jerry (1989), Ismael (1995), Gaston (2004), Humberto (2007), and Hanna (2008).
Category 2Storms of Category 2 are strong enough that they can lift a house, and inflict damage upon poorly constructed doors and windows. Vegetation, poorly constructed signs, and piers can receive considerable damage. Mobile homes, whether anchored or not, are typically damaged, and many manufactured homes also suffer structural damage. Small craft in unprotected anchorages may break their moorings. Examples: Diana (1990), Erin (1995),Alma (1996), Marty (2003) and Juan (2003).
Category 3Tropical cyclones of Category 3 and higher are described as major hurricanes in the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific basins. These storms can cause some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings, particularly those of wood frame or manufacture materials with minor curtainwall failures. Buildings that lack a solid foundation, such as mobile homes, are usually destroyed, and gable-end roofs are peeled off. Manufactured homes usually sustain severe and irreparable damage. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures, while larger structures are struck by floating debris. Additionally, terrain may be flooded well inland.
Examples: Carol (1954), Alma (1966), Alicia (1983), Fran (1996), Isidore (2002),Jeanne (2004), Lane (2006), and Bertha (2008).
Category 4Category 4 hurricanes tend to produce more extensive curtainwall failures, with some complete roof structural failure on small residences. Heavy, irreparable damage and near complete destruction of gas station canopies and other wide span overhang type structures are common. Mobile and manufactured homes are leveled. These storms cause extensive beach erosion, while terrain may be flooded far inland. The Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the deadliest natural disaster to hit the United States, peaked at an intensity that corresponds to a modern-day Category 4 storm. Examples of storms at this intensity are Hazel (1954), Carmen (1974), Iniki (1992), Luis (1995), Iris (2001), Charley (2004).
Category 5Category 5 is the highest category a tropical cyclone can obtain in the Saffir-Simpson scale. These storms cause complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings, and some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. Collapse of many wide-span roofs and walls, especially those with no interior supports, is common. Very heavy and irreparable damage to many wood frame structures and total destruction to mobile/manufactured homes is prevalent.Only a few types of structures are capable of surviving intact, and only if located at least three to five miles (four to eight km) inland. They include office, condominium and apartment buildings and hotels that are of solid concrete or steel frame construction, public multi-story concrete parking garages, and residences that are made of either reinforced brick or concrete/cement block and have hipped roofs with slopes of no less than 35 degrees from horizontal and no overhangs of any kind, and if the windows are either made of hurricane resistant safety glass or covered with shutters. The storm's flooding causes major damage to the lower floors of all structures near the shoreline, and many coastal structures can be completely flattened or washed away by the storm surge. Storm surge damage can occur up to four city blocks inland, with flooding, depending on terrain, reaching six to seven blocks inland. Massive evacuation of residential areas may be required if the hurricane threatens populated areas. Storms of this intensity can be severely damaging. Historical examples that reached the Category 5 status and made landfall as such include the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, the 1959 Mexico Hurricane, Camille in 1969,and Gilbert in 1988, Andrew in 1992,Dean, and Felix (Both 2007).