The amount of damage caused by a hurricane depends on several factors, which include the size and density of the population of the affected area, the sea-level of the area, and most importantly, the strength of the storm itself. Predictions of hurricane severity and damage are usually expressed in terms of the Saffir-Simpson Damage-Potential Scale.
The scale was developed in the early 1970s by Herbert Saffir, an engineer in Coral Gables, Fla., and Robert Simpson, then director of the National Hurricane Center. Simpson called on Saffir when the Center was having difficulty warning disaster agencies as to how much damage to expect from particular storms. Saffir, looking at the problem from an engineering point of view, was well-versed in Miami building code and had already worked out what kinds of damage to expect from different wind speeds. Simpson, adding the meteorological details, figured the potential storm surge in different strength storms.