Weather Facts: Hurricane intensity level

During the hurricane season you’ve probably heard talk about the category of a hurricane. Zack Shields takes a look at the different intensity levels of a hurricane and shows how many hurricane landfalls have happened in the U.S.

The Saffir Simpson Scale is used to illustrate the strength of a hurricane. It is a 1 to 5 scale with the weakest being a Category 1 and the strongest being a Category 5.

When a tropical system creates a sustained wind of 74 mph it can be a called a hurricane. As the winds increase to 111 mph or higher it is called a major storm. If the winds climb over 156 mph a Category 5 hurricane is born.

A Category 1 or 2 hurricane will produce moderate to severe damage like trees down, roof damage and storm surge flooding will be confined to beaches.

A major hurricane will lead to devastating damage to neighborhoods and storm surge pushing more inland.

A Cat 5 storm will cause catastrophic damage wiping out neighborhoods and producing significant widespread flooding.

Since 1950, 98 hurricanes have ended up slamming into the U.S. coastline. 37 of them were major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or stronger.

The last major hurricane to hit U.S. was Wilma way back in 2005 during the month of October.

It has been a rare sight to get a Category 4 or 5 storm to hit the U.S.  In the last seven decades we've had two Category 5 hurricane landfalls: Camille in 1969 and Andrew in 1992.