What is the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale?

Hurricanes are categorized using what’s known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale -- but do you know what it means? 

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

Read on to see what each category in the scale signifies when preparing for stormy weather. 

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,” as well as major damage to roofs and home sidings, the agency says. 

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,” it warns. There may also be no water or electricity for days to weeks after the storm moves along.

Category 4, sustained winds of 130 - 156 mph

For both Category 4 and Category 5 storms, “catastrophic” damage is forecast. They can see residential areas isolated by trees and power poles that have come down, the agency says. 

Category 5, sustained winds of 157 mph or more

This is the highest rating for hurricanes in the scale.

“A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse,” according to the NHC.  “Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.” 

Fox News' Travis Fedschun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.