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The scale was developed in 1971 by civil engineer Herbert Saffir and meteorologist Robert Simpson.  The scale classifies hurricanes and cyclones that exceed intensities of tropical depressions and tropical storms.  The categories are divided by the intensities of their sustained winds.  The categories also provide indication of the type of damage and flooding that may be expected with the storm upon landfall.

In the United States, 315hurricanes were recorded to have made landfall between 1851 and 2012. Over one-third of these hurricanes (116) were classified as major hurricanes (designated Category 3 and higher on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale). Hurricanes have made landfall in Florida more than in any other state. The second most hurricane-affected state is Texas, but every state on the gulf coast and bordering the Atlantic Ocean is susceptible to damage caused by hurricanes, as are U.S. island possessions and territories. Hurricanes between 1900 and 2006 resulted in 17,832 deathsHurricanes are categorized byt the damage observed.


Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale 
Category Sustained Wind
Types of Damage due to Hurricane Winds
C5 157 mph or higher
137 kt or higher
252 km/h or higher
Catastrophic: Roof damage is considerable and widespread, window and door damage is severe;
there are extensive glass failures, some complete buildings fail
C4 130-156 mph
113-136 kt
209-251 km/h
Extreme: Extensive damage is done to roofs, windows, and doors;
roof systems on small buildings completely fail; some curtain walls fail.
C3  111-129 mph
96-112 kt
178-208 km/h
Extensive: large trees are toppled, some structural damage is done to roofs;
mobilehomes are destroyed; structural damage is done to small homes and utility buildings.
C2  96-110 mph
83-95 kt
154-177 km/h
Moderate: Some trees are toppled, some roof coverings are damaged;
major damage is done to mobile homes.
C1 74-95 mph
64-82 kt
119-153 km/h
Minimal: Damage is done primarily to shrubbery and trees, unanchored mobile homes are damaged;
some signs are damaged, no real damage is done to structures.