Just what is the difference in hurricanes? - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Just what is the difference in hurricanes?

Graphic of current hurricanes. (Source:KWES) Graphic of current hurricanes. (Source:KWES)
(KWES) -

There are 5 different categories of hurricanes. But lately with the recent vulnerability of Hurricane Irma, knowing the difference of strength is becoming a popular concern. 

We asked the tough questions to First Alert Weather Chief Meteorologist Rachel Briers on what exactly is used to determine the strength of a hurricane.   

"What that actually means is that it's from the Saffir-Simpson Systems Hurricane Wind Scale. It's how we categorize how strong hurricanes are," said Briers. 

This is the scale that is used: 
Category 1: 74 to 95 mph wind speeds. Some damage could be expected.   
Category 2: 96 to 110 mph wind speeds. More debris will be flying and higher risk to more property damage.  
Category 3: 111 to 129 mph wind speeds. Significant amount of property damage, also water and electricity could be unavailable for a few days or weeks. 
Category 4: 130 to 156 mph wind speeds, extreme amounts of property damage. 
Category 5: Anything above 157 mph wind speeds. 

When it comes to a category 4 hurricane, "that is going to do extensive damage. I am talking you could lose part of the roof there, and once you lose that roof, there is not going to much there hold those exterior walls," said Briers. 

But will they ever make a category 6? 

"Category 5 is really anything over 157 miles per hour winds, so we don't get enough hurricanes with the amount of wind speed, so it doesn't look like they will be making anything any time soon," said Briers. 

But why does there seem to be more hurricanes now? We spoke to the National Weather Service in Midland, Texas. They say the last 10 years, the Atlantic Ocean has been in a drought. But now the conditions are very favorable for a hurricane.  

"You have a really weak wind aloft. We call it wind shear," said Meteorologist Amber Hluchan with the Midland National Weather Service. 

Which simply means, "The change of speed with height of the winds when it's really, really weak. That's really when a hurricane can thrive," said Hluchan.  

Copyright 2017 KWES. All rights reserved. 

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