Saffir-Simpson Scale: How strong are the winds in each hurricane category?

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 2:28 PM CDT
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - Hurricane Ian made its first US landfall in Cayo Costa, Florida around 2:05 p.m. CDT on September 28 as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.

Ian weakened to a tropical storm Thursday morning, but moved back over water in the Atlantic Ocean and regained hurricane strength as a Category 1 Thursday afternoon.

The Saffir-Simpson Scale is used to rate each hurricane. It was named after an engineer and a meteorologist in the early 1970s.

Damaging wind, flooding rains, and storm surge are all likelihoods with a landfalling hurricane, but only one of those goes into the rating of a hurricane.

The Saffir Simpson scale is used to rate hurricanes by category, one through five.

It is based solely on the hurricane’s sustained wind speed, and does not take into account rainfall, storm surge or flooding. Each category on the Saffir Simpson scale estimates potential property damage.

Breaking down each category: A Category 1 hurricane has winds of 74 to 95 mph, strong enough to produce some damage and power outages.

A Category 2 hurricane has winds between 96 and 110 mph, creating extensive damage.

Category 3 is considered a major hurricane with winds of 111 to 129 mph, causing devastating damage.

Not only could it lead to major damage to buildings, but electricity and water could be unavailable for several days to several weeks after the storm.

A Category 4 with 130 to 156 mph winds and a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 157 mph or greater will cause catastrophic damage, taking out trees, power lines and doing major damage to any building in its path.

Ian is one of 15 Category 4 or Category 5 hurricanes to make landfall in Florida since weather records began in the late 1800s.