National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale


All hurricanes are dangerous, but some are more so than others. The combination of storm surge, wind, and other factors determine the hurricane's total destructive power. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is designed to help determine wind hazards of an approaching hurricane easier for emergency officials. The scale is assigned five categories with Category 1 assigned to a minimal hurricane and Category 5 to a worst case scenario. Categories 3 to 5 are defined as major hurricanes. The criteria for each category are shown below. The National Hurricane Center has additional information on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

1 74-95 Minimal: Damage to building structures possible, primarily to unanchored older model mobile homes. Damage to poorly constructed signs, shrubbery, and trees. Loose outdoor items become projectiles. Numerous power outages. HUMBERTO 2007
2 96-110 Widespread from very strong winds: Some roofing material, door, and window damage to buildings. Considerable damage to trees, vegetation, mobile homes, and piers. A number of high rise building glass windows dislodged to become projectiles. Widespread power outages up to several days. IKE 2008
3 111-129 Extensive from dangerous winds: Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with minor amount of wall failures. Mobile homes destroyed. Many trees uprooted or snapped. Power outages lasting several days or weeks. ALICIA 1983
4 130-156 Devastating from extremely dangerous winds: Some wall failures with complete house roof structure failures. Extensive damage to doors, windows, and trees. Electricity unavailable for weeks. CARLA 1961
5 >156 Catastrophic: Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small buildings blown over or away. Power outages for weeks or months. ANDREW 1992