What is the Hurricane Wind Scale? - CBS46 News

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What is the Hurricane Wind Scale?

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The Hurricane Wind Scale -- officially known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale -- is a scale that categorizes hurricanes based on its maximum wind speed and expected wind damage. 

(MORE: Complete Coverage on Hurricane Harvey)

The scale was previous called the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale and included pressure and storm surge information, but that info was later dropped as the expected storm surge and pressure didn't always correspond to a storm's wind speed. Now the scale uses just the wind speed, with storm surge information provided separately. 

A tropical cyclone is classified as a hurricane once winds reach 74 mph. From there, the category of a hurricane will continue to increase with an increase in wind speed. Once winds reach 111 mph, a hurricane is considered major.

Listed below are descriptions from the National Hurricane Center on what type of damage to expect with each category.

Category 1 (74-95 mph)

Some damage - Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

Category 2 (96-110 mph)

Extensive damage - Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

Category 3 (111-129 mph)

Devastating damage - Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

Category 4 (130-156 mph)

Catastrophic damage - Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Category 5 (157 mph or higher)

Catastrophic damage - A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

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