(WHTM) – The peak of hurricane season is just around the corner, and that means these storms are likely to make an appearance in the coming weeks.
According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Idalia is expected to strengthen to an “extremely dangerous major hurricane.”
But what is a major hurricane and why does it matter?
According to the National Hurricane Center, a hurricane is considered “major” when the sustained winds within the storm reach 111 mph or higher. This corresponds to a Category 3 or higher storm on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Winds Scale, which has ratings up to 5.
A Category 3 storm, according to the scale, has winds between 111 mph and 129 mph.
According to the NHC, storms of this strength can cause major damage and trees can be “snapped.”
“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,” the NHC stated. “Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.”
Major hurricanes also have the potential for significant loss of life, said the NWS.
The NHC said that while Category 3 storms can cause “devastating damage,” Categories 4 and 5 can result in “catastrophic damage.”
On the lower end of the scale, Category 1 storms can cause “some damage,” while Category 2 storms can cause “extensive damage.”
Currently, Hurricane Idalia is forecast to make landfall along the northwest Gulf Coast of Florida sometime Wednesday as a Category 3 hurricane, according to the NHC.
Some famous Category 3 storms in the past 20 years include Hurricane Irene from 2011 and Hurricane Sandy from 2012. However, when Superstorm Sandy hit land, it was a Category 1 extratropical cyclone.