Hurricane Idalia, a category 3 storm, has just made landfall in Florida.
Considered an “extremely dangerous” weather phenomenon, the hurricane has whipped up gusts of 125mph wind and storm surges across the seafront.
Residents in Florida have spent the last few days preparing for the incoming storm by securing houses and stocking up on supplies.
Despite being recently downgraded from a category 4 storm, Americans are still bracing for considerable destruction along the route of the hurricane as it continues towards South Carolina.
What are the hurricane categories?
This rates storms based on the severity of their wind speed in a one to five rating. The rating system doesn’t take into account other potential deadly hazards such as rainfall, flooding, or tornadoes.
Here are the five hurricane categories and what they mean:
Category one (max sustained winds of 74mph-95mph)
Very dangerous winds with maximum sustained speeds of between 74mph and 95mph will produce some damage to property, such as roofs, shingles, vinyl siding, and gutters in well-built homes. Large tree branches will likely snap and trees with shallow roots may fall. Extensive damage to power lines and poles is likely, resulting in power outages for up to several days.
Category two (max sustained winds of 96mph - 110mph)
Extremely dangerous winds with maximum sustained speeds of between 96mph and 110mph will cause extensive damage, including major roof and siding damage to buildings. Many trees with shallow roots will fall, with the potential to block roads. Power loss is expected with total outages that could last from several days to weeks.
Category three (max sustained winds of 111mph -129mph)
Devastating damage is expected from winds, with maximum sustained speeds of between 111mph and 129mph, including major damage to buildings or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will fall and block numerous roads. Electricity and water are expected to be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
Category four (max sustained winds of 130mph - 156mph)
Catastrophic damage will occur from winds with maximum sustained speeds of between 130mph to 156mph, including severe damage to buildings, such as losing 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, with power outages lasting weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
Category five (max sustained winds of 157mph or higher)
Catastrophic damage will occur from winds with maximum sustained speeds of 157mph or higher, meaning a high percentage of homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas and power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.