Hurricanes receive a category ranking based only upon their maximum sustained wind speed.

It starts off at a tropical depression and gets upgraded to a tropical storm once it hits 39 miles per hour.

At 74 miles per hour it becomes a Category 1 hurricane. At 96 miles per hour, it gets upgraded to a Category 2. Once it hits 111 miles per hour it becomes a Category 3 storm. At Category 4 you have 130 miles per hour. And it finally becomes a Category 5 at 157 miles per hour sustained wind.

WDAY's Lydia Blume on measuring a hurricane's strength. (WDAY)
WDAY's Lydia Blume on measuring a hurricane's strength. (WDAY)

A Category 3 storm or higher is considered a major hurricane.

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However, along the coast, it’s not the wind speed that has the biggest impact.

Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property.

Storm surge is produced by water being pushed towards the shore by the force of the winds moving cyclonically around the storm.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, and the Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30.

In fact, right now we're in the peak of hurricane season spanning from mid-August to late October. However, deadly hurricanes can occur any time in hurricane season.