Hurricane Wind Scale

Hurricanes are a type of tropical cyclone with severe thunderstorms and winds that can exceed 155 miles per hour. They occur most often in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal regions but can also happen in the southwestern United States and along the Pacific coastlines. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June to November, with peak seasons from mid-August to late October. The torrential rains and high winds of a hurricane can cause widespread destruction. Hurricanes can also cause flash flooding, mudslides, landslides and flooding on rivers and streams. Flooding may last for several days or weeks after a storm.

Hurricanes are classified using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale, which has five categories. Categories three through five are considered “major hurricanes,” although all five categories are dangerous. The categories are based on wind speed.

  • Category 1: Winds 119-153 km/hr (74-95 mph) – minimal damage
  • Category 2: Winds 154-177 km/hr (96-110 mph) – moderate damage
  • Category 3: Winds 178-208 km/hr (111-129 mph) – extensive damage
  • Category 4: Winds 209-251 km/hr (130-156 mph) – extreme damage
  • Category 5: Winds more than 252 km/hr (157 mph) – catastrophic damage