The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale was developed in the early 1970s by Herbert Saffir, a consulting engineer in Coral Gables, Florida, and Dr. Robert Simpson, then director of the National Hurricane Center. The scale is based primarily on wind speeds and includes estimates of barometric pressure and storm surge associated with each of the five categories. It is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall.
|1 – Minimal
||74 – 95 mph or 64 – 82 kts
||4 – 5 feet
||greater than 980 mb or 28.94 in
|2 – Moderate
||96 – 110 mph or 83 – 95 kts
||6 – 8 feet
||965 – 979 mb or 28.50 – 28.91 in
|3 – Extensive
||111 – 130 mph or 96 – 113 kts
||9 – 12 feet
||945 – 964 mb or 27.91 – 28.47 in
|4 – Extreme
||131 – 155 mph or 114 – 135 kts
||13 – 18 feet
||920 – 944 mb or 27.17 – 27.88 in
|5 – Catastrophic
||greater than 155 mph or 135 kts
||greater than 18 feet
||less than 920 mb or 27.17 in
Category 1 – Minimal
Damage primarily restricted to shrubbery, trees, and unanchored mobile homes; no substantial damage to other structures; some damage to poorly constructed signs.
Some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage.
Category 2 – Moderate
Considerable damage to shrubbery and tree foliage, some trees blown down; major damage to exposed mobile homes; extensive damage to poorly constructed signs and some damage to windows, doors and roofing materials of buildings, but no major destruction to buildings.
Coastal roads and low-lying escape routes inland cut off by rising water about two to four hours before landfall; considerable damage to piers, marinas flooded; small craft in protected anchorage torn from moorings.
Category 3 – Extensive
Foliage torn from trees; large trees blown down; poorly constructed signs blown down; some damage to roofing, windows, and doors; some structural damage to small buildings; mobile homes destroyed.
Serious flooding along the coast; many small structures near the coast destroyed; larger coastal structures damaged by battering waves and floating debris.
Low-lying escape routes inland cut off by rising water about three to five hours before landfall; flat terrain 5 feet or less above sea level flooded up to 8 or more miles inland.
Evacuation of low-lying residences within several blocks of shoreline may be required.
Category 4 – Extreme
Shrubs, trees, and all signs blown down; extensive damage to roofs, windows, and doors, with complete failure of roofs on many smaller residences; mobile homes demolished.
Flat terrain 10 feet or less above sea level flooded inland as far as 6 miles; flooding and battering by waves and floating debris cause major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore; low-lying escape routes inland cut off by rising water about three to five hours before landfall; major erosion of beaches
Massive evacuation of inland residences as far inland as 6 miles may be required.
Category 5 – Catastrophic
Trees, shrubs, and all signs blown down; considerable damage to roofs of buildings, with very severe and extensive damage to windows and doors; complete failure on many roofs of residences and industrial buildings; extensive shattering of glass in windows and doors; complete buildings destroyed; small building overturned or blown away; mobile homes demolished.
Major damage to lower floors of all structures less than 15 feet above sea level within 1500 feet of the shore.
Low-lying escape routes inland cut off by rising water about three to five hours before landfall; major erosion of beaches.
Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground as far inland as 10 miles may be required.
Information courtesy The National Hurricane Center