Hurricanes are evaluated in a number of ways. Storms are assigned a category based on winds using the Saffir-Simpson wind scale.
This scale only covers the hurricanes intensity based on wind, but storm surge, waves, flooding rains, and tornadoes can all be equivalent or greater threats during a hurricane. The bottom line is not to make decisions based on storm categories, instead listen to officials and evacuate when told to do so.
Category 1: Have winds of 74-95 miles per hour.
Category 2: Have winds of up to 110 miles per hour.
Category 3: Have winds of up to 130 miles per hour. This is the cutoff for "major" hurricanes. Southwest Louisiana residents will remember Hurricane Rita (2005), made landfall as a Category 3.
Category 4: Have winds of up to 155 miles per hour.
Category 5: Have winds over 155 miles per hour. These storms are very rare. Only three such hurricanes have hit the U.S. in the 20th Century — Hurricane Andrews in 1992, Camille in 1969 and the Labor Day Storm of 1935.
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