Saffir-Simpson Scale Definitions - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Saffir-Simpson Scale Definitions

Information taken from the National Hurricane Center.

CATEGORY 1
Winds: 74-95 mph (64-82 kts.)  Storm surge:  4-5 ft. above normal tide levels.  No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage.
Example:  Hurricane Bertha (1996)

CATEGORY 2
Winds: 96-110 mph (83-95 kts.)  Storm surge:  6-8 ft. above normal tide levels.  Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings.
Example:  Hurricanes Diana (1984), Bonnie (1998), and Floyd (1999)

CATEGORY 3
Winds: 111-130 mph (96-113 kts.)  Storm surge:  9-12 ft. above normal tide levels.  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 center of the hurricane. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft 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.
Example:  Hurricane Fran (1996)

CATEGORY 4
Winds: 131-155 mph (114-135 kts.)  Storm surge:  13-18 ft. above normal tide levels.  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 center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km).
Example:  Hurricane Hazel (1954)

CATEGORY 5
Winds: over 155 mph (135 kts.)  Storm surge: 19or higher above normal tide levels.  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 center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required.
Examples:  Hurricane Andrew (1992, in south Florida), Hurricane Camille (1969, Mississippi Gulf Coast), Florida Keys Hurricane (1935).  No category 5 hurricane has made landfall in North Carolina since records have been kept.

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