What to know about the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season

June 1 marked the official start of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. The season will run through Nov. 30, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says it is expected to produce “above average” activity — which would make this the seventh above-average season in a row.

Hurricanes are considered the most powerful weather events on Earth, according to NASA, which makes understanding them and preparing for them of utmost importance.

Clouds of Hurricane Ida (Aug 28, 2021) on a topographic map of the Gulf of Mexico.  / Credit: Frank Ramspott / Getty Images

Clouds of Hurricane Ida (Aug 28, 2021) on a topographic map of the Gulf of Mexico. / Credit: Frank Ramspott / Getty Images

What are the hurricane categories and what do they mean?

Hurricanes are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. Based on the storm’s sustained wind speeds, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used to prepare residents for a storm’s potential damage.

The National Hurricane Center explains that “major” hurricanes are classified as Category 3, 4, or 5 because of their “potential for significant loss of life and damage,” and those major hurricanes are responsible for 85% of all hurricane damage. While Category 1 or 2 hurricanes are less dangerous, they still require preparation and safety measures against damage or injury.

Category 1

Sustained wind speed: 74-95 mph

“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.”

Category 2

Sustained wind speed: 96-110 mph

“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.”

Category 3

Sustained wind speed: 111-129 mph

“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…