How is a hurricane measured?
The Saffir-Simpson scale is a standard scale for rating the severity of hurricanes as a measure of the damage they cause. This scale is based on the observations of many North Atlantic hurricanes. This scale, being first developed in the late 1960s by Herbert Saffir, was made to quantity potential damage from hurricane winds. This scale however, was further expanded in the early 1970s by Robert Simpson. Presently, there are two forms of this scale: the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale and the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Damage Intensity Scale.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale rates hurricanes from category 1 through category 5 in order of increasing intensity. Each intensity category specifies the range of conditions based on four criteria: barometric (central) pressure, wind speed, storm surge, and damage potential. In category 1, some damage to trees and non-anchored homes, including mild flooding is expected to occur. In category 2, considerable damage to trees, causing them to be blown down and more extensive damage to poorly anchored houses are expected. In category 3, trees will be blown down, minor structural damage to buildings will occur and more severe flooding will take place. In category 4, there will be severe damage to roofing and houses, including damage to coast line structures due to severe flooding. Finally in stage 5, small buildings will be swept away as major structural damage occurs, which will result with the evacuation of all living near the coast due to disastrous flooding.
The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Damage Intensity Scale, in addition to the wind speed, outlines the damage potentially possible with an associated categorized hurricane. This scale is also used to give an estimate of the potential property damage and flooding expected to occur along the coast as a result of a hurricane occurrence. Wind speed is the determining factor in the scale.