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The hurricane rating scale explained

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The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale rates a hurricane's intensity using wind speed and storm surge, which is the abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm. The scale also estimates the potential damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall.


Camille made landfall along the Mississippi coast as a Category 5 hurricane on August 17, 1969.

Category One
• Wind speed: 74-95 mph (119-153 km/h)
• Storm surge: 4-5 feet above normal
• Damage: Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees along with some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage
• Examples: Allison, 1995; Danny, 1997

Category Two
Wind speed: 96-110 mph (154-177 km/h)
• Storm surge: 6-8 feet above normal
• Damage: Roofing, door and window damage to buildings; Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees, mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers
• Examples: Bonnie, Georges, 1998

Category Three
Wind speed: 111-130 mph (178-209 km/h)
• Storm surge: 9-12 feet above normal
• Damage: Structural damage to small residences and utility buildings; foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down; mobile homes destroyed
• Examples: Roxanne, 1995; Fran, 1996; Beta, 2005

Category Four
Wind speed: 131-155 mph (210-249 km/h)
• Storm surge: 13-18 feet above normal
• Damage: Extensive damage to doors, windows and lower floors of shoreline houses; total roof failures on small residences; shrubs, trees, and all signs blown down; mobile homes completely destroyed
• Examples: Hugo, 1989; Luis, Felix, Opal, 1995

Category Five
Wind speed: Greater than 155 mph (249 km/h)
• Storm surge: generally greater than 18 feet above normal
• Damage: Complete roof failure on many buildings and some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away; severe and extensive window and door damage; mobile homes completely destroyed
• Examples: Camille, 1969; Gilbert, 1988; Andrew, 1992; Mitch, 1998; Ivan, 2004; Katrina, Wilma, Rita, 2005 E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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