What is a Category 4 hurricane?

According to NOAA, well-built homes can sustain severe damage, with the complete demise of mobile homes. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and land on streets and power lines. Along the coast, a storm surge of 13-18 feet can be anticipated. Communities that are impacted by the eyewall can be uninhabitable for weeks. Hurricanes Ian (2022), Ida (2021), Harvey (2017) and Irma (2017) were Category 4 cyclones when they made landfall in the United States.

A hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130-156 mph is considered to be a Category 4 cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

A Category 4 cyclone is considered to be a major hurricane and is only one class below a Category 5.

The scale does not take into account flooding, erosion, tornadoes or storm surge that are known to be deadly during a Category 5 hurricane.

According to NOAA, well-built homes can sustain severe damage, with the complete demise of mobile homes. Most trees will be snapped, with downed vegetation causing significant damage to power lines.

Power outages in the worst impacted communities could last months, as some neighborhoods are uninhabitable.

Along the coast, a Category 4 hurricane can produce a storm surge from 4 to 5 feet. This rise in water level can cause localized erosion and flood low-lying areas.


Prior to the arrival of a storm, extensive population centers are put under mandatory evacuations, which can take days to complete.

After the passage of a Category 4 hurricane, clean-up of debris may take several months.

Once sustained winds are greater than 156 mph, a hurricane is considered to be a Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Due to the warm water and atmospheric conditions that are needed to support Category 4 storms, the majority occur in September and October.


Memorable Category 4 strikes on the U.S.

Hurricane Ian (150 mph) – 2022

Hurricane Ida (150 mph) - 2021

  • Landfall location: Port Fourchon, Louisiana
  • U.S. damage: $74 billion
  • Damage from Hurricane Ida stretched from the Gulf Coast through New England, with widespread flooding reported in many communities. Due to Ida being a high-end Category 4, it was the second-most costly hurricane to strike Louisiana, only behind Hurricane Katrina. Northeast cities reported upwards of 10" of rain, and the National Weather Service office that covers New York City issued the area’s first Flash Flood Emergency.

Hurricane Harvey (130 mph) – 2017

  • Landfall location: Rockport, Texas
  • U.S. damage: $125 billion
  • Hurricane Harvey made landfall around 160 miles south of Houston, but most of the damage was centered in East Texas. Once the cyclone made landfall, the steering patterns collapsed, resulting in catastrophic flooding that lasted for over four days. Nederland, Texas, reported a rainfall total of 60.58", making Harvey the wettest hurricane in U.S. history.

Hurricane Irma (130 mph) – 2017

  • Landfall location: Cudjoe Key, Florida
  • U.S. damage: $50 billion
  • Irma was a long-lived Cabo Verde hurricane that caused hurricane conditions throughout the Florida Peninsula. Irma was the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in the Sunshine State since Charley (2004). NOAA estimated that nearly 100 people were either directly or indirectly killed by the large storm in the U.S.