(WFXR) — Hurricanes pack major impacts such as tornadoes, flooding, and powerful winds.

“If the wind speed goes from 50 mph to 100 mph, you might think that was double the damage. But actually, it’s four times,” said William Devenport, Director of the Virginia Tech Stability Wind Tunnel. “That means that as the hurricane strength grows that the damage goes up disproportionately.”

These winds are such a destructive force that meteorologists categorize hurricanes by their wind speed.

Hurricanes are measured on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, which is estimated potential property damage based on the hurricane’s maximum wind speed.

“There will be debris in the wind in a hurricane, especially the faster it’s going. This is at least as much a hazard as the wind itself,” Devenport said.

According to the scale, to be classified as a Category 1 hurricane, a tropical storm must have one-minute-average maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph. These winds may cause some roof damage, down powerlines, and snap tree branches.

A Category 2 hurricane produces winds between 96 to 110 mph. Major roof and siding damage is possible, as well as uprooted trees and power outages.

Once a hurricane reaches Category 3 or greater, it is labeled a major hurricane.

In a Category 3 hurricane, winds range from 111 to 129 mph. Devastating damage and falling debris are likely. Older mobile homes may be destroyed while most newer ones will experience significant damage. Well-built frame homes and industrial buildings will likely experience major damage. Uprooted trees and downed powerlines may block roads. Electricity and water could also be impacted with service unavailable for several days.

Category 4 hurricanes have winds ranging from 130 to 156 mph while a Category 5 hurricane can produce winds of 157 mph or higher. Catastrophic damage will occur. Well-built homes may sustain severe damage or are destroyed. Downed trees and powerlines are likely. Areas impacted by these destructive storms will likely be without power and/or water for weeks or months.

“You can’t see the wind—and it doesn’t always feel like it’s very much—but it can be a force to be reckoned with,” Devenport said.

One issue with categorizing hurricanes using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is that the scale estimates potential property damage based only on the hurricane’s maximum wind speed. Tropical storms and hurricanes can pose other threats, like storm surge or flooding caused by heavy rainfall. No matter the category of a hurricane, all storms should be taken seriously.