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The Saffir-Simpson Scale


The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed. This scale estimates potential property damage and categorizes hurricanes to indicate their severity. Understanding the Saffir-Simpson scale is crucial for preparing and responding to hurricanes effectively.

The Saffir-Simpson Scale

The Saffir-Simpson scale categorizes hurricanes into five categories based on their sustained wind speeds:

  1. Category 1:
    • Wind Speeds: 74-95 mph (119-153 km/h)
    • Impact: Minimal damage, primarily to unanchored mobile homes, trees, and shrubbery. Coastal flooding and minor pier damage are possible.
  2. Category 2:
    • Wind Speeds: 96-110 mph (154-177 km/h)
    • Impact: Moderate damage, including significant damage to mobile homes and some damage to roofing material, windows, and doors. Considerable damage to trees and shrubbery, with some trees blown down. Coastal and low-lying areas may be flooded.
  3. Category 3 (Major Hurricane):
    • Wind Speeds: 111-129 mph (178-208 km/h)
    • Impact: Extensive damage, including structural damage to small residences and utility buildings. Large trees may be blown down, and mobile homes are destroyed. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures, with larger structures damaged by floating debris.
  4. Category 4 (Major Hurricane):
    • Wind Speeds: 130-156 mph (209-251 km/h)
    • Impact: Severe damage, with most trees snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Residential areas can sustain severe damage with roofs and walls compromised. Coastal areas face extensive erosion and major damage to lower floors of buildings near the shore.
  5. Category 5 (Major Hurricane):
    • Wind Speeds: 157 mph or higher (252 km/h or higher)
    • Impact: Catastrophic damage, including a high percentage of framed homes destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles isolate residential areas. Power outages can last for weeks to months, and most of the area becomes uninhabitable for weeks or months. Massive coastal flooding and beach erosion occur.

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