The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a classification used for some Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones that exceed the intensities of tropical depressions and tropical storms. The scale divides hurricanes into five categories distinguished by the intensities of their sustained winds. In order to be classified as a hurricane, a tropical cyclone must have maximum sustained winds of at least 74 mph (33 m/s; 64 kt; 119 km/h). The highest classification in the scale, Category 5, is reserved for storms with winds exceeding 155 mph (69 m/s; 136 kt; 249 km/h).
The classifications are intended primarily for use in measuring the potential damage and flooding a hurricane will cause upon landfall, although they have been criticized as being too simple. Officially, the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is used only to describe hurricanes forming in the Atlantic Ocean and northern Pacific Ocean east of the International Date Line. Other areas use different classification scales to label these storms, which are called "cyclones" or "typhoons", depending on the area.