Historical examples     
Category Sustained wind speed Wind damage Gulf coast Atlantic coast
1 74-95 mph Damaging winds expected Hurricane Cindy, 2005 Hurricane Gaston, 2004
2 96-110 mph Very strong winds producing
widespread damage
Hurricane Erin, 1995 Hurricane Isabel, 2003
3 111-130 mph Dangerous winds causing
extensive damage
Hurricane Rita, 2005 Hurricane Jeanne, 2004
4 131-155 mph Extremely dangerous winds
causing devastating damage
Hurricane Charley, 2004 Hurricane Hugo, 1989
5 More than 155 mph Catastrophic damage expected Hurricane Camille, 1969 Hurricane Andrew, 1992

Source:  U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Hurricane Center.