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How hurricanes are classified

By Times Staff Writer
Published April 15, 2007


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Hurricanes are classified according to wind speed and flooding. The Saffir-Simpson Scale has been used by meteorologists since 1969 as a way to compare damage inflicted by tropical storms.

Source: National Hurricane Center

Category 1

Winds: 74 to 95 mph

Storm surge: 4 to 5 feet above normal

Damage primarily to trees and unanchored mobile homes. Some coastal flooding.

Category 2

Winds: 96 to 110 mph

Storm surge: 6 to 8 feet

Some damage to roofs, doors, windows, trees and shrubbery; flooding damage to piers.

Category 3

Winds: 111 to 130 mph

Storm surge: 9 to 12 feet

Some structural damage; large trees blown down; flooding near shoreline and possibly inland; mobile homes destroyed.

Category 4

Winds: 131 to 155 mph

Storm surge: 13 to 18 feet

Extensive damage to doors and windows; major damage to lower floors near shore; terrain may be flooded well inland.

Category 5

Winds: in excess of 155 mph

Storm surge: more than 18 feet

Complete roof failure and some building failures; massive evacuation. Flooding causes major damage to lower floors of all shoreline buildings.

[Last modified April 11, 2007, 11:00:52]


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