The Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale

November 12, 2013 

Hurricanes are ranked in terms of wind strength according to the Saffir-Simpson scale, from Category 1 to Category 5:

Category 1: Winds of 74 mph to 95 mph (central barometric pressure generally 28.94 inches or less), generating a 4-foot to 5-foot storm surge. Minimal damage

Category 2: Winds from 96 mph to 110 mph, storm surge 6 feet to 8 feet. Moderate damage.

Category 3: Winds from 111 mph to 130 mph, storm surge 9 feet to 12 feet. Extensive damage. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a Category 3 hurricane at landfall in Louisiana.

Category 4: Winds from 131 mph to 155 mph, storm surge 13 feet to 18 feet. Extreme damage. Hurricane Charley was a high Category 4 when it slammed Punta Gorda in 2004.

Category 5: Winds greater than 155 mph, causing storm surge 18 feet and higher. Catastrophic damage. Only three Category 5 hurricanes have hit the United States: the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 in the Upper Keys, Hurricane Camille on the Gulf Coast in 1967, and Hurricane Andrew, which destroyed much of south Miami-Dade in 1992.

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