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Wind Scales

Beaufort Wind Scale

Beaufort Number
or Force

Wind Speed

Description Effects Land / Sea
mph km/hr knots
0 <1 <1 <1 Calm Still, calm air, smoke will rise vertically.

Water is mirror-like.

1 1-3
Light Air Rising smoke drifts, wind vane is inactive.

Small ripples appear on water surface.

2 4-7
Light Breeze Leaves rustle, can feel wind on your face, wind vanes begin to move.

Small wavelets develop, crests are glassy.

3 8-12
Gentle Breeze Leaves and small twigs move, light weight flags extend.

Large wavelets, crests start to break, some whitecaps.

4 13-18
Moderate Breeze Small branches move, raises dust, leaves and paper.

Small waves develop, becoming longer, whitecaps.

5 19-24
Fresh Breeze Small trees sway.

White crested wavelets (whitecaps) form, some spray.

6 25-31
Strong Breeze Large tree branches move,  telephone wires begin to "whistle", umbrellas are difficult to keep under control.

Larger waves form, whitecaps prevalent, spray.

7 32-38
Moderate or Near Gale Large trees sway, becoming difficult to walk.

Larger waves develop, white foam from breaking waves begins to be blown.

8 39-46
Gale or Fresh Gale Twigs and small branches are broken from trees, walking is difficult.

Moderately large waves with blown foam.

9 47-54
Strong Gale Slight damage occurs to buildings, shingles are blown off of roofs.

High waves (6 meters), rolling seas, dense foam, Blowing spray reduces visibility.

10 55-63
Whole Gale or Storm Trees are broken or uprooted, building damage is considerable.

Large waves (6-9 meters), overhanging crests, sea becomes white with foam, heavy rolling, reduced visibility.

11 64-72
Violent Storm Extensive widespread damage.

Large waves (9-14 meters), white foam, visibility further reduced.

12 73+
Hurricane Extreme destruction, devastation.

Large waves over 14 meters, air filled with foam, sea white with foam and driving spray, little visibility.


Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale


Wind Strength - Pressure Effects


65 to 83 knots
74 to 95 mph
119 to 153 kph
> 980 mb
Storm surge generally 4-5 ft above normal. No real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs. Also, some coastal road flooding and minor pier damage. Hurricanes Allison of 1995 and Danny of 1997 were Category One hurricanes at peak intensity.


84 to 95 knots
96 to 110 mph
154 to 177 kph
980 - 965 mb
Storm surge generally 6-8 feet above normal. Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers. Coastal and low-lying escape routes flood 2-4 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Small craft in unprotected anchorages break moorings. Hurricane Bertha of 1996 was a Category Two hurricane when it hit the North Carolina coast, while Hurricane Marilyn of 1995 was a Category Two Hurricane when it passed through the Virgin Islands.


96 to 113 knots
111 to 130 mph
178 to 209 kph
964 - 945 mb
Storm surge generally 9-12 ft above normal. Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large tress blown down. Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering of floating debris. Terrain continuously lower than 5 ft above mean sea level may be flooded inland 8 miles (13 km) or more. Evacuation of low-lying residences with several blocks of the shoreline may be required. Hurricanes Roxanne of 1995 and Fran of 1996 were Category Three hurricanes at landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and in North Carolina, respectively.


114 to 134 knots
131 to 155 mph
210 to 249 kph
944- 920 mb
Storm surge generally 13-18 ft above normal. More extensive curtainwall failures with some complete roof structure failures on small residences. Shrubs, trees, and all signs are blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Extensive damage to doors and windows. Low-lying escape routes may be cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Major damage to lower floors of structures near the shore. Terrain lower than 10 ft above sea level may be flooded requiring massive evacuation of residential areas as far inland as 6 miles (10 km). Hurricane Luis of 1995 was a Category Four hurricane while moving over the Leeward Islands. Hurricanes Felix and Opal of 1995 also reached Category Four status at peak intensity.


135+ knots
155+ mph
249+ kph
< 920 mb
Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the hurricane center. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required. There were no Category Five hurricanes in 1995, 1996, or 1997. Hurricane Gilbert of 1988 was a Category Five hurricane at peak intensity and is the strongest Atlantic tropical cyclone of record.

The effects described in the Saffir-Simpson scale are from the
National Hurricane Center

Dvorak Current Intensity Chart

The Dvorak technique is a method using enhanced Infrared and/or visible satellite imagery to quantitatively estimate the intensity of a tropical system.

CI -- Current Intensity
MWS -- Mean Wind Speed
MSLP -- Mean Sea Level Atmospheric Pressure in Millibars

CI Number MWS (Knots) MSLP (Atlantic) MSLP (Pacific) Saffir-Simpson Category (Approximate)
1 25 Knots      
1.5 25 Knots      
2 30 Knots 1009 mb 1000 mb  
2.5 35 Knots 1005 mb 997 mb  
3 45 Knots 1000 mb 991 mb  
3.5 55 Knots 994 mb 984 mb  
4 65 Knots 987 mb 976 mb 1 (64-83 KTS)
4.5 77 Knots 979 mb 966 mb 1 (64-83 KTS);
2 (84-96 KTS)
5 90 Knots 970 mb 954 mb 2 (84-96 KTS);
3 (97-113 KTS)
5.5 102 Knots 960 mb 941 mb 3 (97-113 KTS)
6 115 Knots 948 mb 927 mb 4 (114-135 KTS)
6.5 127 Knots 935 mb 914 mb 4 (114-135 KTS)
7 140 Knots 921 mb 898 mb 5 (136+ KTS)
7.5 155 Knots 906 mb 879 mb 5 (136+ KTS)
8 170 Knots 890 mb 858 mb 5 (136+ KTS)

Dvorak Chart from NOAA Satellite Services Division

Wind Warnings


Day Flags / Night Lights

Small Craft Advisory warn.gif
Red over white lights
Forecast winds of 18 to 33 knots (21 to 38 mph).
Small Craft Advisories may also be issued for hazardous sea conditions or lower wind speeds that may affect small craft operations.
Gale Warning warn.gif
White over red lights
Forecast winds of 34 to 47 knots (39 to 54 mph)
Storm Warning storm.gif
Red over red lights
Forecast winds of 48 knots (55 mph) or greater
Tropical Storm Warning storm.gif
Red over red lights
Forecast winds of 48 to 63 knots (55 to 73 mph) associated with a tropical storm
Hurricane Warning storm.gif
Red over white over red
Forecast winds of 64 knots (74 mph) or higher associated with a hurricane


Fujita Tornado Scale

F-Scale / Intensity Phrase Wind Strength / Frequency Description of Damage
Gale tornado
40-72 mph
35-62 knots
64-116 kph
Minimal Damage - Some damage to chimneys, TV antennas, roof shingles and windows. Breaks branches off trees, pushes over shallow-rooted trees, damages sign boards.
Moderate tornado
73-112 mph
63-97 knots
117-180 kph
Moderate Damage - Automobiles overturned, carports destroyed, trees uprooted, peels surface off roofs, mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned, moving autos pushed off the roads.
Significant tornado
113-157 mph
98-136 knots
181-253 kph
Major Damage - Roofs torn off frame homes, sheds and outbuildings are demolished, mobile homes overturned or destroyed,   boxcars pushed over; large trees snapped or uprooted, light object missiles generated.
Severe tornado
158-206 mph
137-179 knots
254-332 kph
Severe Damage - Exterior walls and roofs blown off well-built houses, metal buildings collapsed or are severely damaged, trains overturned, forests and farmland flattened, heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown.
Devastating tornado
207-260 mph
180-226 knots
333-419 kph
Devastating Damage - Few walls, if any, standing in well-built houses,  structures with weak foundations blown off some distance,  large steel and concrete missiles thrown far distances, cars thrown.
Incredible tornado
261-318 mph
227-276 knots
420-512 kph
less than 1%
Incredible Damage - Homes leveled with all debris removed, strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate. Schools, motels, and other larger structures have considerable damage with exterior walls and roofs gone, steel re-inforced concrete structures badly damaged. Automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters, trees debarked.
Inconceivable tornado
319-379 mph
277-329 knots
513-610 kph
less than 1%
These winds are very unlikely. The small area of damage they might produce would probably not be recognizable along with the mess produced by F4 and F5 wind that would surround the F6 winds. Missiles, such as cars and refrigerators would do serious secondary damage that could not be directly identified as F6 damage. If this level is ever achieved, evidence for it might only be found in some manner of ground swirl pattern, for it may never be identifiable through engineering studies

Weather Map Wind Symbols

Wind Barbs


1 knot = 1 nautical mile per hour = 6076 feet per hour = 1.15078 mph
1 mph = 1 mile per hour = 5280 feet per hour = 0.86898 knots per hour


Convert from one speed to another

Type a value in one box and click here to see the results

Kilometers per hour
Miles per hour


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