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What You Need to Know About the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

5/15/2024 (Permalink)

As hurricane season approaches, it's essential to understand the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, a widely recognized tool for assessing the potential impact of hurricanes. Developed by engineer Herbert Saffir and meteorologist Robert Simpson, this scale categorizes hurricanes based on their sustained wind speeds and provides valuable insights into the potential damage they can cause. Here's a breakdown of the Saffir-Simpson scale and what each category means:

Category 1 (74-95 mph)

Hurricanes in this category are considered relatively weak but can still cause damage. Expect minimal structural damage, primarily to unanchored mobile homes, trees, and shrubbery. Power outages may occur, and loose outdoor items could become projectiles in the wind.

Category 2 (96-110 mph)

Category 2 hurricanes pose a moderate threat, with the potential for extensive damage. Well-constructed homes may sustain roof and siding damage, and older mobile homes could be destroyed. Power outages may last for several days, and fallen trees can block roads.

Category 3 (111-129 mph)

Considered a major hurricane, Category 3 storms can cause significant damage. Structural damage to homes is likely, with roofs and exterior walls at risk of failure. Power outages may be prolonged, and evacuation orders are common for coastal areas due to the threat of storm surge.

Category 4 (130-156 mph)

Category 4 hurricanes are extremely dangerous and capable of causing catastrophic damage. Well-built homes may suffer severe damage or even collapse, and most trees will be snapped or uprooted. Power outages can last for weeks, and coastal flooding from storm surge is a significant concern.

Category 5 (157 mph or higher)

The most intense hurricanes, Category 5 storms, can cause widespread destruction. High-rise buildings may sustain significant damage, and most trees will be snapped or uprooted. Extensive power outages can last for weeks or months, and coastal areas may experience devastating storm surge.

Understanding the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale can help you prepare for hurricanes and make informed decisions about evacuation and safety measures. Stay informed about approaching storms by monitoring weather updates from reliable sources and following guidance from local authorities. By being proactive and prepared, you can mitigate the potential impact of hurricanes and keep yourself and your loved ones safe during severe weather events.

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