What are the categories of storms and what exactly do they mean?

The Saffir-Simpson Scale classifies hurricanes by maximum sustained winds. However, please keep in mind a storm may have stronger wind gusts.

Categories 1 through 5:

  • Category 1: 74 to 95 MPH sustained wind speed
  • Category 2: 96 to 110 MPH sustained wind speed
  • Category 3: 111 to 129 MPH sustained wind speed
  • Category 4: 130 to 156 MPH sustained wind speed
  • Category 5: Over 157 MPH sustained wind speed

These categories only highlight potential damage and impacts form the wind. This does not address other potential hurricane related impacts, such as storm surge, flooding, and tornadoes.

Please also be mindful to not classify a storm by “just a category X.” There are many variables which can affect the severity of a hurricane such as if it is arrives at high tide.  If a Category 1 arrives at high tide, flooding could be predicted past Highway 170 in the greater Bluffton area. Remember, many factors are in a hurricane equation and each storm and its potential damage is unique. It is always best to err on the side of safety than to take a cavalier attitude towards hurricanes and tropical storms.

Show All Answers

1. Who has the authority to issue an evacuation order?
2. What local agency leads during hurricane season?
3. What if I need a shelter during a storm?
4. What if I need transportation to a shelter?
5. My neighborhood floods during major storms. What are ways to prevent flooding?
6. What are the best sources of information during a storm?
7. What if Beaufort County is being evacuated but the Savannah area is not?
8. What if I work in Georgia but live in Bluffton?
9. Can I evacuate before an evacuation order?
10. What happens if I stay in town during a mandatory evacuation order?
11. What can I do to prepare for a storm?
12. What can my neighborhood or POA do to prepare for a hurricane?
13. How does the Town of Bluffton prepare for a hurricane?
14. How do local contractors prepare for a hurricane?
15. What is the difference between a hurricane/tropical storm watch vs. warning?
16. What are the categories of storms and what exactly do they mean?
17. What do I do if my house loses power?
18. What are the evacuation routes?
19. What is the CARE program and how do I get added to it?
20. What is the Smart911 Program?
21. How do people who only speak Spanish access information regarding hurricanes?
22. ¿Cómo acceden las personas que solo hablan español a la información sobre huracanes?
23. What is an OPCON level and what do they mean?
24. What are all the social media and digital venues to access information for the Town of Bluffton and Bluffton Police Department?