Already today it is at the top end of the Category 4 parameters as the storm enters the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to become Category 5 shortly. Whether it remains that strong when it reaches landfall is yet unknown, as well as where exactly it will hit between Texas and Florida.
Cat 5 hurricanes wield winds greater than 155 mph and storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal.
Damage to be expected includes: Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required.
Only 3 Category Five Hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since records began: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Camille (1969), and Hurricane Andrew in August, 1992. The 1935 Labor Day Hurricane struck the Florida Keys with a minimum pressure of 892 mb--the lowest pressure ever observed in the United States. Hurricane Camille struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast causing a 25-foot storm surge, which inundated Pass Christian. Hurricane Katrina (pdf), a category 5 storm over the Gulf of Mexico, was still responsible for at least 81 billion dollars of property damage when it struck the U.S. Gulf Coast as a category 3. It is by far the costliest hurricane to ever strike the United States. In addition, Hurricane Wilma (pdf) of 2005 was a Category Five hurricane at peak intensity and is the strongest Atlantic tropical cyclone on record with a minimum pressure of 882 mb.
Gulf coast populations are right to be evacuating now, with landfall expected to take place within 36 hours.
Experience has repeatedly shown that evacuation of coastal areas during serious hurricane threats is the prudent advice to follow. Do not wait till it is too late and do not consider yourself above the laws of physics or human endurance.
Get Ready ... Seriously - www.safecastleroyal.com