Measuring Hurricane Force

September 13, 2018
Boxing gloves and tape
Photo: Unsplash/Rawpixel

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is the standard for measuring property damage caused by storms like Hurricane Florence, which is currently classified as a Category 4 hurricane.

Category 4 storms have wind speeds of 130 to 156 miles per hour, and cause "catastrophic damage," which Sarah Kirby, a professor of agriculture and science with a specialty in housing at North Carolina State University explains to Realtor.com, "once you get to a 4, the idea of losing the whole roof comes about ... you should be seriously concerned." Some homes are more at risk than others, particularly those with hip roofs, "The wind can get underneath and peel it back," says Kirby.

Hurricane Florence—already one of the strongest storms the East Coast has seen in decades—is poised to deliver a "Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast" by noon on Thursday, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency associate administrator Jeff Byard. This sounds bad, but how bad, really? In other words, assuming people in storm-prone areas evacuated inland to safety, what kind of wreckage will they return to once the storm has finally passed?

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