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Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale explained | Weather Wise

Hurricanes are ranked on the scale from Category 1 to Category 5. They are determined from the highest average sustained wind speed over a one minute period.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hurricane season officially begins on June 1. Like tornadoes, hurricanes have a scale to rank their intensity. Unlike tornadoes, we are able to classify how strong a hurricane is before it causes damage because we can accurately get an idea of wind speed.

Hurricanes are ranked on the Saffir-Simpson Scale from Category 1 to Category 5. The categories themselves are determined from the highest average sustained wind speed over a one minute period.

Category 1 hurricanes have wind speeds between 74 and 95 mph. Even though a category 1 is the weakest hurricane, it can still cause expensive damage. Shallow-rooted trees will be pushed over, branches snapped, and minor damage will occur to chimneys, gutters, or siding.

A category 2 hurricane has wind speeds between 96 and 110 miles per hour. A category 2 storm is strong enough to strip roofs, severely damage or overturn mobile homes, and blow cars off the road.

By the time a storm reaches category 3, damage becomes much more significant. Wind speeds between 111 and 129 miles per hour are now strong enough to tear off roofs, destroy mobile homes, uproot or snap trees, and toss cars around.

Category 4 hurricanes bring even worse damage. Wind speeds for these beasts range from 130 to 156 miles per hour. Roofs can still be torn off, cars can be tossed around, trees can have the bark stripped off them, and trains can even end up overturned.

A category 5 is the largest, most powerful storm on earth. Wind speeds exceed 157 miles per hour. Houses will be completely leveled, other weak structures will be destroyed, and cars can be tossed around like toys.

All hurricanes are strong and dangerous. Thankfully, we live in the Ohio Valley and don't have to worry about a hurricane having a direct hit on us any time soon.

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