A high-intensity hurricane in Beaufort County could cause flooding, major damage to buildings and require mass evacuations to safer ground. Not all hurricanes, however, would bring such devastation. The National Weather Service classifies hurricanes into five categories based on their wind speed.
Wind speed: 74 to 95 mph
Storm surge: Those winds cause a "storm surge," pushing ocean water toward the coast, which would cause the water level at the shoreline to rise four to five feet.
Wind speed: 96 to 110 mph
Storm surge: Six to eight feet. A storm of this strength would cause flooding to coastal and low-lying escape routes, two to four hours before the arrival of the storm's center.
Wind speed: 111 to 130 mph
Storm surge: Nine to 12 feet. The storm surges could cut off low-lying escape routes three to five hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane.
Wind speeds: 131 to 155 mph
Storm surge: 13 to 18 feet. Some small residences would have complete roof structure failure, as well as damage to doors and windows. There also would be major damage to the lower floors of larger structures near the shore.
Winds: Greater than 155 mph
Storm surge: Exceeds 18 feet. Complete roof failure would occur on many residences and industrial buildings, and complete building failures would occur in some instances.