How dangerous is Hurricane Matthew? The Saffir-Simpson scale details potential damage

Scale is 1-to-5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed, intensity

By RJ Marquez - Digital Content Curator, The National Hurricane Center
NOAA via CNN

In the event of a hurricane or major weather event, it’s important to know the potential for property damage or loss of life.  

The National Hurricane Center estimates potential damage by using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. 

The scale is a 1-to-5 rating based on a hurricane's sustained wind speed and intensity. 

Follow the latest updates and radar on Hurricane Matthew right here.

According to the National Hurricane Center, hurricanes reaching category 3 and higher are considered major hurricanes because of their potential for significant loss of life and damage.

Category 1 and 2 storms are still dangerous and require preventive measures.   

Here is the breakdown of the categories based on wind speeds. All information is from the National Hurricane Center. Click here for more information.  

Category 1: Sustained winds of 74-95 mph  

Category 1 storms are considered to have very dangerous winds and will produce some damage. Potential for damage includes:  

  • Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roofs, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters.  
  • Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. 
  • Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

Category 2: Sustained winds of 96-110 mph 

Category 2 storms are considered to have extremely dangerous winds that will cause extensive damage. Potential for damage includes:  

  • Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage.
  • Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads.
  • Near-total power loss is expected, with outages that could last from several days to weeks.  

Category 3 (major): Sustained winds of 111-129 mph 

Category 3 storms have winds that will cause devastating damage. Potential for damage includes:

  • Well-built frame homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends.
  • Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads.
  • Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

Category 4 (major): Sustained winds of 130 - 156 mph 

Category 4 storms have winds that will cause catastrophic damage. Potential for damage includes:

  • Well-built frame homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls.
  • Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed.
  • Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.  
  • Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. 

Category 5 (major): Sustained winds of 157 mph or higher

Category 5 storms have wind that will cause catastrophic damage. Potential for damage includes:  

  • A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse.
  • Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas.
  • Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Click here for more information from the National Hurricane Center.

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