The most dangerous hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, category 5 hurricanes can completely devastate a coastal city.
Not that many category 5 hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since meterioligists first started accurately measuring the wind speed of tropical storms.
If a storm has sustained winds of 157 mph or more, the storm is considered to be a category 5 hurricane according to the Saffir-Simpson Scale.
The most dangerous aspect of a hurricane often times isn’t the wind speed, it’s the storm surge and rain. Sure, 130 mph winds can do some damage, but a severe storm surge can lift homes off their foundations and destroy everything in its path.
During hurricane Harvey in 2017, the storm dropped 50 inches of rain in some areas of Houston, TX… That’s more that four feet of rain! That much rain can easily ruin the entire first floor of a house. Harvey was a category 4 storm when it came ashore in Texas, with a peak wind gust of 132 mph reported 2 miles ENE of Port Aransas, TX. Way more damage was caused from the rain than the wind during Harvey.
I once heard a meteorologist say, “Run from the storm surge and flooding, hide from the wind.” Far more people perish from storm surge and flooding from rain during a hurricane than those that don’t survive because of the wind.
Expected damage during a Category 5 Hurricane
If you are in the path of a category 5 hurricane, you should expect total devastation to the area. If you are a homeowner, hopefully you have really good homeowners insurance and some sort of flood insurance plan. Many homes in the direct path of a category 5 storm will be completely destroyed from the wind. Storm surge will be substantial. You should anticipate many inches of rainfall within a short period of time.
Storms of this magnitude rarely make landfall as a category 5, most will be degraded before direct impact. However, there have been instances were storms have rocked an area with 157+ mph winds.