Video: Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast on August 25 as a Category 4 hurricane.
Joe Raedle / GettyImages
Last week, Irma hit the northern Lesser Antilles and Cuba as a Category 5 hurricane.
While we’ve already talked about what those different category types actually mean, it can be hard to visualise the real difference between, say, a Category 3 and a Category 5, when they’re just ominous terms being tossed around on the news.
To help with that terrifying mental exercise, here’s an animation of the different strengths on the hurricane scale, developed by AtmosNews of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), as shared by science writer Brian Kahn:
How much damage do Category 5 winds do compared to Category 1 winds? There's a visualization for that (and it's not pretty) pic.twitter.com/GaO3jbp2QE
— Brian L Kahn (@blkahn) September 5, 2017
For better or worse, the visual somehow makes the distinction between “devastating damage” (Category 3) and “catastrophic damage” leading to an “uninhabitable” area (Category 4) seem much more concrete.