Skip navigation

You are here: Homepage > Hazards > Hurricanes > Storm Basics > Dangers

Because they are small and low-lying, the Cayman Islands face great danger from high, crashing waves, and rising sea level (storm surge) during a hurricane. These, along with the strong winds and driving rain, often cause sudden, severe flooding, and can quickly weaken the foundations and walls of buildings, especially those near the shore. Flying debris thrown in by the waves or wind can become deadly missiles, both to people and to buildings which are not hurricane resistant. If you live on or near the waterfront, or in a flood prone area, plan to leave if a hurricane threatens.

What to Expect from a Storm or Hurricane

Storms are classified according to their wind speed. Each system behaves in its own peculiar way, but you can generally expect the damage listed below for each type of storm.

                                                   Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale

Category

Sustained Winds

Types of Damage Due to Hurricane Winds

1

74-95 mph
64-82 kt
119-153 km/h

Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

2

96-110 mph
83-95 kt
154-177 km/h

Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

3
(major)

111-129 mph
96-112 kt
178-208 km/h

Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

4
(major)

130-156 mph
113-136 kt
209-251 km/h

Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the 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. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

5
(major)

157 mph or higher
137 kt or higher
252 km/h or higher

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 will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months

 

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage. Hurricanes reaching Category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage. Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous, however, and require preventative measures.

Last Updated: 2010-08-15