Saffir-Simpson Scale

The Saffir/Simpson Scale is used by The National Hurricane Center to provide a continuing assessment of the potential for wind and storm-surge damage. 

Scale Number (Category) Sustained Winds (MPH) Damage Examples Areas Affected
1 74-95 Minimal Allison 1995, Danny 1997 Florida Panhandle, Alabama
2 96-110 Moderate Bonnie 1998, Georges 1998 NC Florida Keys, Mississippi
3 111-130 Extensive Roxanne 1995, Fran 1996 Mexico, North Carolina
4 131-155 Extreme Andrew 1992, Hugo 1989 South Florida, South Carolina
5 155+ Catastrophic Mitch 1998, Gilbert 1988 Caribbean, Mexico

The following is a description of the damage potential by hurricane category:

Category 1:

Winds of 74 to 95 miles per hour. Damage occurs primarily to shrubbery, trees, and unanchored mobile homes and to poorly-constructed signs. Low-lying coastal roads are inundated, minor pier damage occurs, and some small craft in exposed anchorage are torn from moorings.

Category 2:

Winds of 96 to 110 miles per hour. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some blown down. Major damage to exposed mobile homes. Extensive damage to poorly-constructed signs. Some damage to roofing materials, windows, and constructed signs. Some damage to roofing materials, windows, and doors but not major damage to buildings. Coastal roads and low-lying escape routes inland cut by rising water two to four hours before arrival of hurricane center. Considerable damage to piers. Marinas flooded. Small craft in unprotected anchorages torn from moorings.

Category 3:

Winds of 111 to 130 miles per hour. Extensive damage to large trees. Poorly-constructed signs are blown down. Damage to roofing materials, windows, and doors. Mobile homes are destroyed. Serious flooding along coast with many smaller coastal structures destroyed and large structures damaged by battering waves and floating debris. Low-lying escape routes further inland inundated by rising water three to five hours before hurricane center arrives.

Category 4:

Winds of 131 to 155 miles per hour. Shrubs and trees blown down; all signs down. Extensive damage to roofing materials, windows, and doors. Complete failure of roofs on many small residences. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Major damage to lower floors of structures near shore line’s due to flooding, battering waves, and floating debris. Low-lying inland escape routes but by rising water three to five hours before hurricane center arrives. Major erosion of beaches.

Category 5:

Winds greater than 155 miles per hour. Shrubs and trees blown down, considerable damage to roofs of buildings, all signs down. Severe and extensive damage to windows and doors. Complete failure of roofs on many residential and industrial buildings. Extensive shattering of glass in windows and doors. Some complete building failures. Small buildings overturned or blown away. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Low-lying escape routes inland cut by rising water three to five hours before hurricane center arrives.