As I write this, Hurricane Hermine is fast approaching Florida as a Category 1 with estimated sustained wind speeds of 75 mph. While my novel includes an intense and destructive fictional hurricane as one of its central characters, these types of storms should never be taken lightly as they are dangerous to those in their paths.
I have seen the aftermath a number of hurricanes including Hurricane Wilma which slammed the Florida Coast in 2005 as a Category 3 with wind speeds of 120 mph. I also saw damage caused by Hurricane Odile, that hit Los Cabos Mexico in September of 2014 as a Category 3 with wind speeds of 125 mph. Wilma caused damage estimated at $29.4 billion. It is the fourth costliest US hurricane behind Katrina ($125B), Sandy ($68B), and Ike ($37.5B). Odile caused damage estimated to be on a smaller scale but still, the damage I saw was significant.
Many of you may not know the origin or the meaning behind the “category” designation of these storms. They are from the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. It is a 1 to 5 rating focusing on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed at a particular point in time. Interestingly, the scale not only describes the elevating danger depending on the wind speed, but it also estimates potential property damage. For instance, according to the Scale, a Cat 1 is described as very dangerous winds that will produce some damage to well-constructed frame homes. The scale goes on to describe the type of damage that can be expected. A Cat 3 is described as devastating damage will occur. The wind speeds for a Cat 3 are between 111-129 mph. A Cat 5 is described as catastrophic damage will occur and the wind speeds are 157 mph or higher. There is a description for each of the categories, 1 through 5, and a good amount of detail about the type of damage that can be expected.