Hurricane categories: Learn what the numbers mean

When it comes to hurricanes, one of the biggest questions is what category it will be. Hurricanes are categorized on a scale of one through five using the Saffir-Simpson scale, which is based on sustained wind speed:

  • Category 1: 74-95 mph
  • Category 2: 96-110 mph
  • Category 3: 111-129 mph
  • Category 4: 130-156 mph
  • Category 5: 157+ mph


The National Hurricane Center considers a Category 3 and above to be a major storm because of the potential for catastrophic damage and loss of life.

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