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Last revision: 3/21/03

Hurricane Classification


Hurricanes form where trade winds from the northeast meet those from the southeast. Tropical depressions are numbered consecutively (TD-01, TD-02, etc.) beginning June 1. A name is assigned when constant wind velocity exceeds 38 MPH and is upgraded to a tropical storm.

NOTE: Damage information comes from USAA Magazine, Aug-Sep 1998.

Saffir-Simpson Scale


* Tropical Depression
Winds: 20-34 knots (38 MPH or less). Barometer: Not applicable. Storm surge: Not applicable. "Closed" circulation.
* Tropical Storm
Winds: 35-64 knots (39 to 73 MPH). Barometer: Not applicable. Storm surge: Not applicable.
* Category 1
Minimal hurricane. Winds: 65-82 knots (74-95 MPH). Barometer: 980 mb or greater (28.94 in. or more). Storm surge: up to 5 feet. Wind damage to unanchored mobile homes and foliage; some coastal flooding
* Category 2
Moderate hurricane. Winds: 83-95 knots (96-110 MPH). Barometer: 965-979 mb (28.50-28.91 in.). Storm surge: 6-8 feet. Wind damage to some roofing, doors, and windows; significant damage to mobile homes; small craft could break moorings.
* Category 3
Extensive hurricane. Winds: 96-113 knots (111-130 MPH). Barometer: 945-964 mb (27.91-28.47 in.). Storm surge: 9-12 feet. Structural damage to homes; mobile homes destroyed; flooding at elevations lower than five feet about seal level (ASL).
* Category 4
Extreme hurricane. Winds: 114-135 knots (131-155 MPH). Barometer: 920-944 mb (27.17-27.88 in.). Storm surge: 13-18 feet. Major structural damage; extensive beach erosion with flooding at elevations lower than 10 feet ASL
* Category 5
Catastrophic hurricane. Winds: 135 knots or greater (156 MPH or greater). Barometer: 919 mb or less (27.16 in. or less). Storm surge: 19 feet or more. Massive structural damage; some complete building failures; flooding at elevations lower than 15 feet ASL; Evacuation Necessary

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