1. Education
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

What Is a Major Hurricane?

Storm Categories Determine the Classification of a Hurricane as Major


Hurricane Katrina GOES Satellite Image

Hurricane Katrina NASA GOES Satellite Image. August 29th, 2005

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
A major hurricane is considered any hurricane that is a category 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. On average, about 2 major hurricanes make landfall in the mainland United States every 3 years.


  • Adapted from NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS TPC-57, The Deadliest, Costliest, and Most Intense United States Tropical Cyclones 1851 to 2006 by Eric S. Blake, Edward N. Rappaport, and Chris W. Landsea, April 2007

Major Hurricane Strikes in the US 1851-2006

Saffir-Simpson CategoryHurricane Strikes
5 3
4 18
3 75
2 73
1 110
Total 279
Major Hurricanes 96

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.