Hurricane Categories


Hurricane intensity is measured using the Saffir-Simpson damage potential scale. It is named after Herbert Saffir, a consulting engineer in Coral Gables, Florida, and Robert Simpson, who was director of the National Hurricane Center from 1967 through 1973. Mr. Saffir developed the first version of the scale in 1971 for a United Nations report on construction that could stand up to high winds. It used wind speeds as a guide to the damage to expect. Hurricane Camille that hit the Mississippi Coast on August 17, 1969, was the reason the scale was devised. On the Saffir-Simpson scale hurricanes are rated by their potential for damage on a scale of one to five.




Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Category
Wind Speed
Storm Surge
Damage
Example
1
74-95 mph
4-5 feet
Minimal
Irene, 1999
2
96-110 mph
6-8 feet
Moderate
Floyd, 1999
3
111-130 mph
9-12 feet
Extensive
Fran, 1996
4
131-155 mph
13-18
Extreme
Andrew, 1992
5
Over 155 mph
Greater than 18 feet
Catastrophic
Camille, 1969

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