During a typical year, several tropical storms and hurricanes will develop and move across the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea. It takes only one of these storms to produce widespread impacts across a large area, and even storms that do not make landfall in Florida can bring hazards to the area. The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and continues through November 30. Although the number of tropical storms and hurricanes typically peaks during August and September, it is important to remember that Florida can be impacted by tropical weather systems at any time during the six-month-long season, and sometimes outside of the official season.
Hurricane Wind Scale
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage. Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures. In the western North Pacific, the term "super typhoon" is used for tropical cyclones with sustained winds exceeding 150 mph.
|Category||Sustained Winds||Types of Damage Due to Hurricane Winds|
|1||74 to 95 miles per hour|
64 to 82 kt
119 to 153 kilometers per hour
|Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.|
|2||96 to 110 miles per hour|
83 to 95 kt
154 to 177 kilometers per hour
|Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.|
|3 (Major)||111 to 129 miles per hour|
96 to 112 kt
178 to 208 kilometers per hour
|Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.|
|4 (Major)||130 to 156 miles per hour|
113 to 136 kt
209 to 251 kilometers per hour
|Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and / or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.|
|5 (Major)||157 miles per hour or higher|
137 kt or higher
252 kilometers per hour or higher
|Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.|
- Advisory - Advisory messages are issued by the national Hurricane Center, giving information on all tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes at 5 a.m., 11 a.m., 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. These adversaries are supplemented at 3-hour intervals when landfall is likely within 24 hours.
- Tropical Storm Watch - A tropical storm is similar, but smaller than a hurricane. Winds associated with these storms are less than 74 mph, but can still cause widespread damage and flooding. Tropical storm watches are made for specific coastal areas where tropical storm conditions pose possible threats within 48 hours.
- Tropical Storm Warning - This warning means that tropical storm conditions, including possible sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph are expected in specific coastal areas within 36 hours.
- Hurricane Watch - These watches are made for specific coastal areas. These are not warnings. These watches mean that a hurricane is close enough for everyone to listen to advisories and be prepared to take precautionary measures. Watches are usually issued 48 hours prior to landfall.
- Hurricane Warning - This warning means that a hurricane is close enough to a specific coastal area that precautionary measures must be taken immediately. These warnings are usually issued 36 hours prior to landfall. However, if the hurricane's path is unusual, it may only be a few hours before landfall before the warning is issued.