What makes a hurricane a Category 5?

Saffir-Simpson scale used to classify hurricanes

This Monday, Sept. 4, 2017, satellite image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Irma nearing the eastern Caribbean. (NOAA via AP)

(WWLP) – Irma is now a Category 5 hurricane, but what does that mean? Hurricanes are rated into categories, based on their wind speed.

This wind speed-based scale is known as the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

  • Category 1 – 74-95 MPH sustained winds. Dangerous winds, but minimal damage.
  • Category 2- 96-110 MPH sustained winds. Extreme winds, extensive damage.
  • Category 3 – 111-129 MPH sustained winds. Now a “major” hurricane. Extreme winds and devastating damage.
  • Category 4 – 130-156 MPH sustained winds. Extreme winds and catastrophic damage.
  • Category 5 – 157+ MPH sustained winds. Extreme winds and catastrophic damage.

There is no such thing as a Category 6 hurricane or higher. Any storm that hits land as a Category 5, however, would cause incredible damage.