What is the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale?
Answer. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used in public
hurricane releases to classify hurricanes according to their potential
for generating property damage and flooding in coastal areas. The
following are the five classifications assigned to hurricanes and
a discussion of each:
Category I: A Category One hurricane produces winds of 74
to 95 mph and/or a storm surge 4 to 5 feet above normal. No real
damage to buildings is likely. Some damage may be expected to unanchored
mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some coastal road flooding and
minor pier damage may be expected.
Category II: A Category Two hurricane produces winds of
96 to 110 mph and/or a storm surge 6 to 8 feet above normal. Buildings
will receive some roof, door and window damage. Considerable damage
to vegetation, mobile homes and piers will occur. Coastal and low-lying
escape routes likely will flood 2 to 4 hours before arrival of the
hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages will lose
Category III: A Category Three hurricane generates winds
of 111 to 130 mph and/or a storm surge 9 to 12 feet above normal.
Structural damage to residences and utility buildings will occur
and mobile homes frequently are destroyed. Flooding near the coast
destroys small structures and larger structures are damaged by floating
debris. Terrain lower than 5 feet above sea level is flooded 8 or
more miles inland.
Category IV: A Category Four hurricane produces winds of
131 to 155 mph and/or a storm surge 13 to 18 feet above normal.
Extensive outside wall failure with complete roof failure on small
residences will occur. Major erosions of beaches and major damage
to the lower floors of buildings near the shore is likely. Terrain
continuously lower than 10 feet above sea level may be flooded and
evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles may be
Category V: A Category Five hurricane produces winds greater
than 155 mph and/or a storm surge greater than 18 feet above normal.
Complete roof failure will occur on many residences and industrial
buildings and some complete destruction of small utility buildings
can be expected. Major damage is likely to lower floors of structures
located less than 15 feet above sea level and within 500 yards of
the shoreline. Evacuation of residential areas on low ground within
10 miles of the shoreline may be required.