How Hurricanes Work

Hurricane Categories

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale
A Category 5 hurricane should have you running for safe ground in a hurry.

Hurricanes can unleash incredible damage when they hit. With enough advance warning though, cities and coastal areas can give residents the time they need to fortify the area and even evacuate. To better classify each hurricane and prepare those affected for the intensity of the storm, meteorologists rely on rating systems.

Australian scale of cyclone intensity Australian scale of cyclone intensity
The Australians have their own method of rating storms.

Australian meteorologists use a slightly different scale to classify hurricanes. While the Australian scale of cyclone intensity also ranks storms by wind speed and damage on a scale of 1 to 5, it covers both hurricanes and tropical storms.

­On the next page, we'll look at the tremendous damage hurricanes can inflict when they collide with coastal areas.