Understanding Hurricane Categories & the Potential Damage Caused by Each Level

Hurricane Categories: Hurricane Strength & Damage Category Ratings

Any hurricane can cause devastating damage to glass windows and doors. Combining high-speed winds and flying debris, there’s no shortage of ways these tropical storms can shatter glass and cause lasting damage. Before a storm strikes, you need to prepare. At DefenseLite, we have custom solutions to help mitigate damage from severe weather events.

The first step to preparing for a storm is understanding the severity of possible damage. Using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Category Scale, you can gain a better idea of what protection you need. Let’s look at how the scale ranks hurricane wind categories, and what protection you need for each type of storm.

What is the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Category Scale?

hurricane category scaleThe Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is the hurricane rating scale most experts use to categorize hurricane severity. The scale leverages wind speed to separate storms into five categories of intensity.

It’s worth noting that the scale fails to account for hazards like storm surges, flooding, and tornadoes. These natural disasters pose additional threats to glass windows and doors. If these other threats accompany a hurricane, take extra precautions.

Determining Potential Damage to Glass By Hurricane Category

All hurricane levels can cause damage to glass windows. It’s still essential, however, to understand the differences between hurricane ratings when protecting your home. Going through every level of storm outlined by the NHC, we’ll dive into the damage caused by hurricane categories 1-5.

Category 1 Hurricane

category 1 hurricane wind speed

Category 1 hurricane wind speed ranges from 74 to 95 miles per hour. These winds are strong enough to snap branches off of trees, and even topple some trees with shallow roots. Well-constructed frame houses might experience damage to external features, such as shingles or gutters.

Combining potential damage from wind and debris, and even Category 1 hurricanes pose substantial risks to glass windows and doors. Depending on the strength of the glass, your windows may break due to the force of the wind alone.

At a minimum, we recommend hurricane window protection fabric to weather a Category 1 hurricane. These screens combine woven material and plastic-like PVC to deflect branches and other debris. Although easy to install, hurricane window protection fabric may fail to stop a window from shattering debris. Because of this, this solution is unideal in areas affected by frequent storms.

Category 2 Hurricane

category 2 hurricane scaled

A Cat 2 hurricane reaches wind speeds of 96-110 miles per hour. Well-constructed frame homes will retain damage to roofing and siding, plus power outages. These winds will snap and dislodge shallowly rooted trees, causing additional property damage.

With winds strong enough to damage siding, Category 2 hurricanes can seriously damage glass windows and doors. Without some form of protection, glass breakage is highly likely.

A convenient option to protect glass in areas affected by Category 2 hurricanes is hurricane shutters. Although expensive, these permanent fixtures offer long-term protection from storms. With diverse styles, these shutters can even add an extra layer of decor to your home.

Category 3 Hurricane

cat 3 hurricane wind speed

The first category of hurricane considered “major” by the NHC, Cat 3 hurricane winds reach 111-129 miles per hour. Typical frame homes may incur notable damage, including a loss of roof decking and gable ends. Trees will fall, alongside long-term outages in power and water.

Category 3 hurricanes cause wide-reaching damage to communities, including glass windows and doors. Homes and businesses need serious protection to minimize the potential aftermath of these storms.

Areas affected by Category 3 hurricanes should invest in polycarbonate hurricane panels. Two hundred and fifty times stronger than glass, these panels offer a sturdy defense against strong winds and incoming debris.

Category 4 Hurricane

cat 4 hurricane winds

With wind speeds of 130-156 miles per hour, the NHC refers to the damage caused by Category 4 Hurricanes as catastrophic. These winds can destroy a home’s roof structure and exterior walls, topple most trees and power lines, and cause damage that will last for months.

Category 4 hurricanes cause extreme harm to glass windows and doors for homes and businesses. As such, a combination of polycarbonate panels and shutters is your best bet for protection. Even then, damage from a Category 4 hurricane may be unavoidable.

Category 5 Hurricane

cat 5 hurricane wind speedThe highest category hurricane within the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale, a Category 5 hurricane reaches a wind speed of 157 miles per hour or higher. Like Category 4 hurricanes, areas affected by Category 5 storms will incur damage that lingers for months. Additionally, these storms will outright destroy a large number of homes.

Considering the severity of Cat 5 hurricane wind speed, you’ll want the utmost protection from these storms. Polycarbonate windows again offer the safest bet to preserve glass doors in windows. Even if debris cracks polycarbonate, shatter-resistant construction lowers the chance of complete destruction.

Protect Your Windows During a Hurricane

Regardless of hurricane category, you risk shattering glass windows and doors without the appropriate protection. Harness options like hurricane shutters and custom polycarbonate hurricane panels from DefenseLite to ensure your glass panels remain as safe as they can be.

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