How to Measure Hurricane Strength: Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale

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The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a 1-5 rating based on the hurricane's present intensity.

This hurricane scale is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall.

Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale, as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf in the landfall region. Wind speeds are measured using a 1-minute average.

Note:The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale (SSHWS) was updated in 2012 to accomodate number rounding issues.

Category Average Wind (mph) Representative Hurricanes
Category One      74 - 95 Danny; 1997
Category Two      96 - 110 Bonnie & Georges; 1998
Category Three      111 - 129 Rita; 2005
Category Four      130 - 156 Charley; 2004
Category Five      157 + Andrew; 1992


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Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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