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Damage done to homes in Florida by Hurricane Michael. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Hurricanes are classified using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale — a 1 to 5 rating that's based on maximum sustained wind speed, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Background: The scale also assesses potential property damage from strong winds, with "Category 3" hurricanes and higher considered to be "major" hurricanes. The scale was created by Herbert Saffir and Robert Simpson in 1971 and introduced to the public in 1973. It was updated in 2010 to solely reflect wind speed and not storm surge or other factors.

Here's how the categories are broken down:

  • Category 1
    • Winds: 74–95 mph
    • "Very dangerous winds will produce some damage."
    • Example: Hurricane Nate (October 2017), Hurricane Franklin (August 2017)
  • Category 2
    • Winds: 96–110 mph
    • "Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage."
    • Example: Hurricane Arthur (July 2014), Hurricane Ernesto (August 2012)
  • Category 3 (major)
    • Winds: 111–129 mph
    • Damage: "Devastating damage will occur"
    • Example: Hurricane Katrina (Augst 2005), Hurricane Karl (September 2010)
  • Category 4 (major)
    • Winds: 130–156 mph
    • "Catastrophic damage will occur"
    • Example: Hurricane Harvey (August–September 2017), Hurricane Joaquin (September–October 2015)
  • Category 5 (major)
    • Winds: 157 mph and higher
    • "Catastrophic damage will occur"
    • Example: Hurricane Michael (October 2018), Hurricane Andrew (August 1992)

Yes, but: A "hurricane" is the name given to systems that develop over the Atlantic or the eastern Pacific Ocean. Tropical storms that develop in other places can be called "typhoons" or "cyclones" — and the classification practices for those differ slightly.

Context: Even Category 1 hurricanes can kill dozens, given that the greatest threat is water, not wind. This comes both through a storm surge at the coast and heavy inland rains.

  • There is a growing movement within the meteorology community to rethink the Saffir-Simpson scale to take into account other storm characteristics, including size, surge potential and rainfall.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Trump confidante Matt Schlapp interviews Jared Kushner last February. Schlapp is seeking a pardon for a biotech executive. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A flood of convicted criminals has retained lobbyists since November’s presidential election to press President Trump for pardons or commutations before he leaves office.

What we're hearing: Among them is Nickie Lum Davis, a Hawaii woman who pleaded guilty last year to abetting an illicit foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low. Trump confidante Matt Schlapp also is seeking a pardon for a former biopharmaceutical executive convicted of fraud less than two months ago.