Courtesy of National Hurricane Center


The Saffir-Simpson wind intensity scale classifies Hurricanes into five main categories based on the strength of their sustained wind speeds.

Hurricanes are Western Hemisphere tropical Cyclones that form in the Atlantic Ocean and North Eastern Pacific Ocean that must have sustained winds of 74mph, 119km/h to be officially recorded as a Category 1 hurricane.

The Saffir-Simpson scale was developed by Herbert Saffir a civil engineer and Robert Simpson a meteorologist in 1971, but was officially introduced to public service in 1973.
The scale was devised after Herbert Saffir undertook a commission for the United Nations to study low-cost housing in hurricane-prone areas After realising that there was no scale to categorise the damage caused to structures by hurricane wind speeds, devised a scale by categorising these winds from 1-5 based on these wind speeds.
This scale was then given to the National Hurricane Center where Simpson added the effects of flooding and storm surge.

The Scale was later changed by the NHC in 2009 to only record purely the wind speeds of a hurricane and eliminate predicted storm surge and flooding parameters which the became operational in 2010 as the Saffir-Simpson Wind Intensity Scale.

A hurricane that is recorded a Category 3 or higher is seen as major hurricane, this is due to the likelihood of significant structural damage and potential for loss of life.
Category 1 and 2 although the sustained winds are still seen as dangerous are hurricanes that require preventative measures, and less likely to cause catastrophic structural damage and a smaller potential for loss of life.