Weather Research Tools, Reports, Radar and Climate Information


Weather is the state of the atmosphere with respect to heat or cold, wetness or dryness, calm or storm, clearness or cloudiness. Weather is the specific condition of the atmosphere at a particular place and time.

It is measured in terms of such things as wind, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloudiness, and precipitation. In most places, weather can change from hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and season-to-season. It is also defined as the state of the atmosphere at a given time that includes temperature, precipitation, humidity, pressure, winds.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale with Wind Speeds

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a one to five (1-5) rating scale that is based on a hurricane’s present intensity. The scale is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf and the shape of the coastline, in the landfall region. Note that all winds are using the U.S. 1-minute average.

Category One Hurricane:

Wind speeds of 74 mph to 95 mph (64-82 kt or 119-153 km/hr). Storm surge generally 4-5 ft above normal. No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage. For example, Hurricane Lili of 2002 made landfall on the Louisiana coast as a Category One hurricane. Also, Hurricane Gaston was a Category One hurricane that made landfall along the central South Carolina coast in 2004.

Category Two Hurricane:

Wind speeds of 96 mph to 110 mph (83-95 kt or 154-177 km/hr)

In a category 2 hurricane, the storm surge generally 6-8 feet above normal. Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings. Hurricane Frances of 2004 made landfall over the southern end of Hutchinson Island, Florida as a Category Two hurricane. Hurricane Isabel of 2003 made landfall near Drum Inlet on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as a Category 2 hurricane.

Category Three Hurricane:

Winds 111-130 mph (96-113 kt or 178-209 km/hr)

Storm surge generally 9-12 ft above normal. Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtain wall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft above mean sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences with several blocks of the shoreline may be required. Hurricanes Jeanne and Ivan of 2004 were Category Three hurricanes when they made landfall in Florida and in Alabama, respectively.

Category Four Hurricane:

Winds 131-155 mph (114-135 kt or 210-249 km/hr)

  • Storm surge generally 13-18 ft above normal
  • More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences
  • Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down
  • Complete destruction of mobile homes
  • Extensive damage to doors and windows
  • Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane
  • Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore
  • Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km)
  • Hurricane Charley of 2004 was a Category Four hurricane made landfall in Charlotte County, Florida with winds of 150 mph
  • Hurricane Dennis of 2005 struck the island of Cuba as a Category Four hurricane.

Category Five Hurricane:

  • Winds greater than 155 mph (135 kt or 249 km/hr).
  • Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal.
  • 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.

At the time this article was prepared, 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, 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.

Websites & Resources

Following are some of the most popular websites for conducting research about weather. Many of these websites also offer an app that can be downloaded and installed on your mobile phone or tablet computer. This puts the helpful planning information right at your fingertips, regardless of your location.

  • – This website provides local forecasts and International Forecasts.  Weather reports include hurricane tracking, world climate and local forecasts plus radars, news & weather maps. Also available as an app for smart phones.
  • CNN Weather – This site provides forecasts and Maps at In addition to many other features, you can get current conditions & five-day forecasts plus radar, satellite, and temperature maps.
  • Intellicast – Intellicast provides Local and National Forecasts, Radar, Maps. Get free, 24 X 7 climate info brought to you by WSI – the source for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), hundreds of TV stations, and more. This website has some of the best radar maps.
  • MSN Weather – Local, National, and International results including- Forecasts, Radar Maps, Current conditions, forecasts, news, video, satellite and Doppler radar maps, and more.
  • NOAA National Weather Service – Official US, marine, fire and aviation forecasts, warnings, meteorological products, climate forecasts and information about meteorology. This is the place to go for the official word on tropical depressions, tropical storms, hurricanes and other related topics.
  • – National and Local Forecast, Radar, Map and Report.  The Weather Channel and provide a national and local forecast for cities worldwide, as well as radar, map and report. current results, Doppler Radar, Storm Watch Enlarge, Daily Traveler Maps Index, Map Room
  • Weather Alerts – Sign up for emergency alerts from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA)
  • Weather Underground – Includes forecasts for the United STates and the world with a fast, easy to use interface. Includes maps, graphics and radar images.
  • Yahoo Weather – Includes forecasts, research resources and categories.

What do Private Investigators need to know?

Private detectives may need to leverage these research resources to plan surveillance missions and travel. Pictures and videos of subjects are much more clear on sunny days. Having knowledge of the current and upcoming climate can be valuable to a private eye. Specialized detectives such as arson investigators and accident reconstruction investigators will also deal with weather-related issues on a regular basis.


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