What is the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale?

Hurricanes are categorized using what’s known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) explains online that it “is a 1 to 5 rating based on a hurricane’s sustained wind speed.” 

Different types of damage may occur depending on each storm category. Read on to see what they signify.

Category 1, sustained winds of 74 - 95 mph

For storms in this category, there’s going to be “some damage” from winds, the NHC advises. 

Large tree branches and shallow trees could be knocked down, according to the agency. Gutters, roofs, shingles and vinyl siding for what it calls “well-constructed frame homes” could be affected, too. 

Category 2, sustained winds of 96 - 110 mph

“Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage,” the NHC warns for such storms.

There may be power outages “that could last from several days to weeks.”

Category 3, sustained winds of 111 - 129 mph

Category 3, Category 4 and Category 5 storms are all labeled “major” hurricanes.

With Category 3, there will be “devastating” damage, according to the NHC.

“Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends,” the agency warns. There also may be no water or electricity for days to weeks after the storm moves along.

Category 4, sustained winds of 130 - 156 mph

“Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls,” the NHC explains.  

For both Category 4 and Category 5 storms, “catastrophic” damage is forecast: they involve residential areas being cut off by trees and power poles that have come down, the agency says, and there may be months-long power outages. 

Category 5, sustained winds of 157 mph or higher

This is the highest rating for hurricanes on the scale.

“A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse,” according to the NHC.