Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

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Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale
Category Wind speeds
Five ≥70 m/s, ≥137 knots
≥157 mph, ≥252 km/h
Four 58–70 m/s, 113–136 knots
130–156 mph, 209–251 km/h
Three 50–58 m/s, 96–112 knots
111–129 mph, 178–208 km/h
Two 43–49 m/s, 83–95 knots
96–110 mph, 154–177 km/h
One 33–42 m/s, 64–82 knots
74–95 mph, 119–153 km/h
Related classifications
Tropical
storm
18–32 m/s, 34–63 knots
39–73 mph, 63–118 km/h
Tropical
depression
≤17 m/s, ≤33 knots
≤38 mph, ≤62 km/h

The Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a scale that is used to sort tropical cyclones in the Western Hemisphere. It is only used for storms that are stronger than "tropical storms", and become actual hurricanes. The categories into which the scale separates hurricanes are noted by the strength of their maximum sustained wind speeds. The classifications are used mainly to predict the possible wind damage a hurricane will create when it makes landfall. It does not measure rainfall or storm surge or how wide the storm is.

The scale is also used to classify subtropical cyclones after a change in the rules made by the National Hurricane Center in 2002.

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used only to describe hurricanes that form in the Atlantic Ocean and northern Pacific Ocean, to the east of the International Date Line. Other areas call their tropical storms by other names, and use their own classification scales.

Examples[change | change source]

Tropical Depression[change | change source]

  • Tropical Depression 10 (2007) - Caused some heavy rain in Florida.[1]

Tropical Storm[change | change source]

  • Tropical Storm Gordon (2018) - Brought damaging winds to southern Alabama.[2]

Category 1[change | change source]

  • Hurricane Barry (2019) - Did damage to southern Louisiana[3]

Category 2[change | change source]

Category 3[change | change source]

Category 4[change | change source]

  • Hurricane Harvey (2017) - Devastated Texas.[6]

Category 5[change | change source]

Only 4 Category 5's have made landfall in the U.S.

  • 1935 Labor Day Hurricane - Devastated the Florida Keys.[7]
  • Hurricane Camille (1969) - Destroyed the Mississippi Coast.[8]
  • Hurricane Andrew (1992) - Severly Damaged a city north of Miami, Florida.[9]
  • Hurricane Michael (2018) - Demolished Mexico Beach, Florida.[10]

Scale And Damage[change | change source]

  • Category 1 74-95 mph

64-82 kt 119-153 km/h Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

  • Category 2 96-110 mph

83-95 kt 154-177 km/h Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

  • Category 3

(major) 111-129 mph 96-112 kt 178-208 km/h Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

  • Category 4

(major) 130-156 mph 113-136 kt 209-251 km/h Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

  • Category 5

(major) 157 mph or higher 137 kt or higher 252 km/h or higher Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. [11]

Reference[change | change source]