This scale, devised by J. H. Saffir and R. H. Simpson, was first used by the National Weather Service in 1975.¹
|inches of mercury|
|1||98.0 or more||28.94||74 to 95||4 to 5||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 flooded, minor pier damage,
some small craft torn from moorings in exposed anchorage.
Examples: Allison and Noel (both 1995).
|2||96.5 to 97.9||28.50 to 28.91||96 to 110||6 to 8||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 of buildings;
some window and door damage. No major damage to buildings. Coastal roads
and low-lying escape routes inland cut by rising water two to four hours
before arrival of hurricane center. Considerable damage to piers; marinas
flooded. Small craft torn from moorings in unprotected anchorages.
Evacuation of some shoreline residences and low-lying island areas
Examples: Hurricane Bertha when it hit the North Carolina coast (1996).
|3||94.5 to 96.4||27.91 to 28.47||111 to 130||9 to 12||Extensive. Foliage torn from trees; large trees blown down. Practically
all poorly constructed signs blown down. Some damage to roofing materials
of buildings; some window and door damage. Some structural damage to small
buildings. Mobile homes destroyed. Serious flooding at coast; many smaller
structures near coast destroyed; larger structures near coast damaged by
battering waves and floating debris. Low-lying escape routes inland cut by
rising water three to five hours before hurricane center arrives. Flat
terrain five feet or less above sea level flooded inland eight miles or
more. Evacuation of low-lying residences within several blocks of
shoreline possibly required.
Example: Hurricane Fran when it hit the North Carolina coast (1996).
|4||92.0 to 94.4||27.17 to 27.88||131 to 155||13 to 18||Extreme. Shrubs and trees blown down; all signs down. Extensive damage
to roofing materials, windows, and doors. Complete failure of roofs on
many small residences. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Flat terrain
10 feet or less above sea level flooded inland as far as six miles. Major
damage to lower floors of structures near shore due to flooding and
battering by waves and floating debris. Low-lying escape routes inland cut
by rising water three to five hours before hurricane center arrives. Major
erosion of beaches. Massive evacuation of all residences within 500 yards
of shore possibly required and evacuation of single-story residence on low
ground within two miles of shore required.
Example: Hurricane Luis moving over the Leeward Islands (1995).
|5||91.9 or less||27.16 or less||156+||18.1+||Catastrophic. Shrubs and trees blown down; considerable damage to roofs
of all buildings; all signs torn down. Very severe and extensive damage to
windows and doors. Complete failure of roofs on many residences and
industrial buildings; extensive shattering of glass in windows and doors.
Some complete building failures. Small buildings overturned or blown away.
Complete destruction of mobile homes. Major damage to lower floors of all
structures less than 15 feet above sea level within 500 yards of shore.
Low-lying escape routes inland cut by rising water three to five hours
before hurricane center arrives. Massive evacuation of residential areas
on low ground within five to 10 miles of shore may be required.
Example: Hurricane Gilbert at peak intensity (1988).
Between 1900 and 1989 there were:
1. R.H. Simpson.
“A proposed scale for ranking hurricanes by intensity.”
Minutes of the Eighth National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service Hurricane Conference, 1971.
Copyright © 2000 Sizes, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last revised: 1 September 2004.