The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is the most widely used hurricane scale in the western hemisphere and is used to classify hurricanes according to their strength and the amount of damage they can cause. The scale ranks hurricanes as categories from one to five, with one being the weakest with light damage and five being the strongest with severe damage and very high winds.

Category Wind speeds Resulting damage Example
1 74-95 mph Roof, gutter, shingles, and other exterior home appliances may be damaged. Large branches and small trees may be toppled. In addition, extensive power outages may occur as a result of damaged power lines. Minor coastal flooding is also commonly associated with these storms.

Hurricane Ernesto (2006)

H Ernesto
2 96-110 mph Major damage to mobile homes and minor flooding in low lying areas. Minor damage to houses and buildings and extensive power failures.

Hurricane Alex (2010)

3 111-129 mph Moderate damage to residential houses and other buildings, mobile homes destroyed, moderate flooding in low lying areas, and near-total power loss.

Hurricane Bertha (2008)

H Bertha
4 130-156 mph Extensive flooding, major damage to building doors and windows, some small houses loose their entire roof structure, more extensive curtainwall failures.

Hurricane Gustav (2008)

H Gustav
5 Greater than 156 mph General catastrophe, many buildings and residential houses completely destroyed, major flooding, extreme power loss.

Hurricane Andrew (1992)



National Weather Service page on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale