What Is the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale?
The Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale is a categorical classification of hurricanes based on their wind speed, used by the U.S. government's National Hurricane Center. The scale was first used in 2009, though the wind speeds of the categories match the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale (see below). The scale underwent a minor modification in 2012. The categories are Category 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5:
Category One Hurricane: Sustained winds 74-95 mph (64-82 kt or 119-153 km/hr).
Category Two Hurricane: Sustained winds 96-110 mph (83-95 kt or 154-177 km/hr).
Category Three Hurricane: Sustained winds 111-129 mph (96-112 kt or 178-208 km/hr).
Category Four Hurricane: Sustained winds 130-156mph (113-136kt or 209-251 km/hr).
Category Five Hurricane: Sustained winds greater than 156 mph (136 kt or 251 km/hr).
Detailed descriptions of the damage to be expected from each category can be found on the NHC website.
What Was the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale?
From 1971 until 2008, the NHC used the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, which also utilized pressure, storm surge and flooding measurements [WikiPedia]. After Hurricane Ike in 2007, which produced a storm surge undeserving to its Category 2 status, the NHC dropped all requirements except wind "to help reduce public confusion about the impacts associated with the various hurricane categories as well as to provide a more scientifically defensible scale." You can read more about this on their website.
The Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale is a categorical classification of hurricanes based on their wind speed, used by the U.S. government's National Hurricane Center.
To qualify as a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane intensity scale, maximum sustained winds must exceed 155 mph (135 kt).
Hurricanes that have a severe impact on lives or the economy are remembered by generations after the devastation they caused, and some go into weather history.
AccuWeather.com has created a number of specialty maps designed for tracking the progress of tropical storms and hurricanes. Use these maps in conjunction with our Hurricane Position graphic, as well as statements issued by the NHC with storm positions.
Hurricanes (by whatever name) are by far most common in the Pacific Ocean, with the western Pacific being most active. In some years, the Philippines are struck by more than 20 tropical storms and typhoons.
Low pressure in the hurricane can act as a plunger, slightly pulling up the water level. However, the components that contribute to the greatest storm surge affect are the winds blowing to the left side of the storm and the topography of the land as the storm makes land fall.