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The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Damage-Potential Scale
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Damage-Potential Scale is a hurricane force scale using the numbers 1-5 to rate a hurricane's intensity. The scale was developed by engineer Herbert Saffir and pioneer hurricane expert Dr Robert Simpson in 1971. The scale is assigned to a hurricane based on its peak wind speed. The scale is used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected along the coast from a hurricane landfall.
Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale as storm surge values are highly dependent on the slope of the continental shelf in the landfall region. Pressure values are closely associated with peak winds but may vary in certain situations. Note that all wind speeds are determined using the US 1-minute average of wind speed.
According to the US National Hurricane Center, the following damage can be expected from hurricanes in the various Safir-Simpson categories:
Category 1 Minimal: Damage primarily to shrubbery, trees, foliage and unanchored mobile homes. No real damage to other structures. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Low-lying coastal roads inundated, minor pier damage, some small craft torn from moorings in exposed anchorage.
Category 2 Moderate: Considerable damage to shrubbery and tree foliage; some trees blown down. Major damage to exposed mobile homes. Extensive damage to poorly constructed signs. Some damage to roofing materials on buildings; some window and door damage. No major damage to buildings. Coastal roads and low-lying escape routes are inland cut off by rising water two to four hours before arrival of storm. Considerable damage to piers. Small craft torn from moorings.
Category 3 Extensive: Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering of floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft (1.7m) above mean sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences with several blocks of the shoreline may be required.
Category 4 Extreme: More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore.Terrain lower than 10 ft (3.3 m) above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km).
Category 5 Catastrophic: Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees and signs blown down. Complete destructon of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft (5.1 m) above sea level and within 500 yards (455 m) of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required.
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