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Storm Surge is the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane, regardless of wind speed.

The destructive power of storm surge and large battering waves can result in loss of life, buildings destroyed, beach and dune erosion and road/bridge damage along the coast.

Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm over and above the normal tide. It happens when the winds of a coastal storm push water onto land. In addition, large and destructive waves ride in on top of the surge. Storm surge can affect the oceanfront and the soundside.

The National Weather Service issues Storm Surge Watch/Warning Maps and Potential Storm Surge Flooding Maps.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Category 1 

Winds of 74-95 MPH

Very dangerous winds will produce some danger: Minor damage to property, shrubbery, trees, and unanchored mobile homes should be expected. Low-lying coastal roads inundated, minor pier damage and some small craft in exposed anchorage may be torn from moorings.

Category 2 

Winds of 96-110 MPH

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallow rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block roads. Serious flooding at coast and many smaller structures near coast destroyed. Considerable damage to piers. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

Category 3 

Winds of 111-129 MPH

Devastating damage will occur: Large trees blown down. Serious flooding at coast and many small structures near coast destroyed; electricity and water may be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes. Major damage to piers.

Category 4 

Winds of 130-156

Catastrophic damage will occur: Shrubs and trees blown down. Extensive damage to roofing materials, windows, and doors; complete failure of roofs on many small residences; complete destruction of mobile homes. Major damage to lower floors of structures near shore due to flooding and battering by waves and floating debris. Destruction of piers.

Category 5 

Winds greater than 157 mph

Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages for weeks to possibly months.