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Stormy Weather

Hurricanes, Monsoons, and Tropical Storms

What is the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale?

The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Damage-Potential scale, which is the full name, is a five-point scale invented in 1971 by engineer Herbert Saffir (1917–2007) and Robert Simpson (1912-), a hurricane expert. Rating hurricanes on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the weakest and 5 the strongest, the scale ranks these storms according to peak wind speeds and the amount of damage they cause.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

Wind Speeds mph/kph Damage Force
1 74–95/137–176 Little, if any, damage to buildings; mobile homes may be damaged, as well as trees and shrubs; some coastal flooding and minor damage to piers.
2 96–110/177–204 Some damage to windows, roofs, and doors; more severe damage to mobile homes, piers, and plants; small watercraft break moorings if they are in unprotected areas; low-lying areas flood 2–4 hours before the hurricane arrives.
3 111–130/205–241 Mobile homes are destroyed and small residences and utility buildings are damaged; flooding is more pronounced with land lower than five feet above sea level flooded as much as six miles inland.
4 131–155/242–287 Buildings see structural failures and roofs may be completely ripped off; lower floors of buildings near the shore are severely damaged; land lower than 10 feet above sea level floods six miles inland; significant erosion of beaches and shoreline.
5 >155/>287 Roofs of residential and industrial structures crumble; some buildings completely destroyed, and lower levels of most other structures within 500 yards (475 meters) of the shoreline are severely damaged and flooded to up to 15 feet (5 meters) above ground; massive evacuation of residence within 10 miles (18.5 kilometers) of the shore.


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