WINDSTORMS COME IN NUMEROUS, DAMAGING FORMS
HOW WINDSTORMS DAMAGE ROOFS
As the name suggests, windstorms damage roofs with high-speed gusts or strong, sustained winds in excess of 34 miles per hour1. They are strong enough to cause light-to-severe damage to trees and buildings, and may be accompanied by rain, snow, or hail. Some can last for just a few minutes, as when caused by downbursts from thunderstorms, while others can go on for hours and even days when part of large-scale weather systems.
Windstorms can damage roofing materials directly through forceful winds that loosen or blow off roofing materials, and also indirectly by hurtling flying debris into a structure or by causing trees or tree limbs to fall onto homes. Not only is this damage an eyesore, damaged roofing also compromises the waterproofing integrity of a roof and makes a home susceptible to moisture infiltration that can cause leaks and/or interior mold growth.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AND RECOVER FROM WINDSTORMS
If you are expecting a windstorm, be sure to examine your roof for any weak points or trouble signs like loose shingles or flashing. If you spot any areas of concern, contact a professional to make necessary repairs or replacements.
To help prevent flying objects from shattering your windows, you can install metal storm shutters. Alternatively, you can install plywood panels to protect your windows2.
Garage doors are also susceptible to damage from high winds. If your garage door is showing signs of wear and tear, you may want to contact a firm that installs garage doors and schedule an inspection.
Heavy winds can bring down trees and branches. Consider trimming back tree branches that hang over your home, or taking down trees that are dangerously close to your home. You should also have your outdoor furniture or appliances either stored away or securely tied down - this includes patio furniture, grills, outdoor decor, and even your garden shed or kids’ playhouse. Move what items you can inside, and consider securing items too big to move by attaching them to anchors using steel cables or chains.
After a windstorm passes, you should assess the damage done to your property while keeping safety at the forefront of your mind. Steer clear of downed power lines, trees with hung up broken limbs, and areas of your home that have visible structural damage. Contact your insurance company, local utilities, and other professionals to handle these hazards.
Depending on the amount of damage done to your roof, you may simply need repairs, or you may suddenly find yourself in the market for a new roof. Either way, you will want to find a reputable roofing contractor to perform the work. You will also want your new roofing to have a high wind-resistance rating to protect you from future storms. Fortunately, many roofing products sold today offer wind resistance ratings of 110 mph or more when installed to manufacturer specifications.
Damage from severe thunderstorm winds in the lower 48 states is more common than damage from tornados. Wind speeds can reach up to 100 mph and can produce a damage path extending for hundreds of miles3.
A widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms is called a derecho — a Spanish word that means “straight” or “right.” Derechos are capable of causing widespread damage, typically in one direction along a relatively straight path (known as straight-line winds), to developed and undeveloped areas.
A July 4, 1999 derecho in Minnesota with winds estimated between 80 and 100 mph completely flattened nearly 500,000 acres of the Superior National Forest4.
HOW WINDSTORMS FORM
Windstorms form when opposing weather systems cause a center of low air pressure to develop while a system of high air pressure is surrounding it. Windstorms come in multiple forms - thunderstorms, low pressure weather systems, and air moving over the major mountain ranges of the western U.S. can all give rise to high winds. Bands of thunderstorms that move together and create derechos are most common in the Midwest5.