We all know that storms are not fun, especially if they’re accompanied by strong winds that make you feel like your house is shaking. If you’ve never lived in an area where summer storms occur, you likely assume that strong winds are nowhere near as dangerous as hurricanes; however, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
On its own, wind can cause extensive property damage. It can tear shingles off roofs, peel siding away from structures, uproot trees, and even decimate buildings. There are a number of different types of winds; the more dangerous ones are typically called straight-line winds. The idea of categorizing winds was developed to help differentiate the damage winds can cause from damage that can be caused by hurricanes and tornadoes.
While strong winds are not typically thought to be as damaging as a tornado or a hurricane, they can still cause significant property damage and, in some cases, make it impossible to live in until it’s restored to its previous condition. In this short article, we will be talking more about damaging winds: how they can harm your property, and how you can be prepared for potential wind damage.
Let’s get going.
What Are Damaging Winds?
Damaging winds is not a term that should be used as a synonym for a tornado or a hurricane. Instead, when it comes to damaging winds, those are the ones that average a speed that goes above 50-60 mph. Usually, these kinds of winds are felt in more frequent events such as summer storms or thunderstorms and are a lot different compared to what occurs during a tornado. For a moderate tornado, you need a speed of at least 74 mph to form. The kind of wind that happens during a tornado is very different; instead of being straight, it’s circular, which makes it even more dangerous.
However, in any circumstances, once winds reach a speed of around 30-45 mph, they’re already considered dangerous. These dangerous winds would require you to stay at home and take all the necessary safety measures.
What Are Straight-Line Winds?
Straight-line wind is a term used for the type of wind that happens during a thunderstorm. Typically, straight-line winds move horizontally along the ground and have no association with tornadoes. When it comes to the United States, such winds are a common occurrence in the Midwest during late spring and summer; however, they can also occur in other parts of the country during a storm.
Straight-line winds usually happen during a specific kind of thunderstorm called “derecho”. “Derechos” is a term used to describe fast-moving bands of thunderstorms that also bring straight-line, dangerous winds. Sometimes, winds that occur during such storms are as dangerous as winds that we see during tornadoes and hurricanes. However, what makes them different is that they move in a straight line, unlike winds during tornadoes and hurricanes.
How Damaging Can Straight-Line Winds Be?
Damaging winds are a more frequent occurrence than tornadoes or hurricanes, and they occur in more regions. That makes them responsible for much more damage than the other two natural disasters. In some cases, when winds blow at a speed that exceeds 100 mph, they can cause a state of emergency and cause widespread damage.
What’s the Cause of Straight-Line Winds?
Usually, straight-line winds occur due to an overflow that’s produced by a thunderstorm downdraft. In most cases, when thunderstorms occur, their downdrafts spread in all directions. When winds blow in every possible direction, that becomes extremely dangerous for trees, which can easily get damaged by such an occurrence. For anyone living close to a forest or an area with many trees, straight-line winds can be quite dangerous.
What Are the Different Types of Wind Damage?
People that live in areas that frequently experience thunderstorms are highly likely to suffer damage due to fast winds. In particular, people who live in mobile homes tend to be vulnerable, and in some cases, accidents that lead to serious injuries and damage can occur. Unfortunately, even deaths are possible, particularly if winds have a speed higher than 80 mph. According to the national weather service, a breeze starts to be considered a “strong breeze” when it reaches 25 mph. From there, the categorization goes like this:
- Winds 25-30 mph: You can hear whistling sounds and large branches in motion.
- Winds 32-38 mph: It’s hard to walk against the wind; you can see trees moving.
- Winds 39-46 mph: Twigs and small branches tend to start breaking.
- Winds 47-54 mph: Buildings start to get damaged. At this point, roof tiles are at risk, and you will see broken branches on the ground.
- Winds 55-63 mph: Roofs start to get structural damage, and small trees are at a high risk of falling over.
- Winds 64-75 mph: There’s a risk of large trees falling over.
- Winds above 75 mph: Severe risk of heavy damage. Winds can harm windows and roofs; trees can be uprooted, and smaller mobile homes may get overturned.
Wind Damage to Your Property
A powerful wind can cause serious damage to your home and to the area surrounding it. That includes fallen branches, torn-down power lines, and uprooted trees. Along with that, all of these events can lead to huge structural damage to your home itself. You can be left without power, with broken windows, and, most often, structural damage to your roof.
Your home’s roof is its primary defense against wind damage. However, even the most well-constructed homes can suffer from roof damage during storms, leading to many problems, most often roof leakage. Fence posts, large trees, and even small branches flying through the air at high speed can tear or break your roof. That’s why the first thing you should check once the storm is over is your home’s roof. Even the smallest damage has to be fixed as soon as possible before it leads to more major issues.
Three Tips for Wind Damage Prevention
With harsher weather conditions, you should expect to face strong winds, thunderstorms, and even hail. It’s vital to ensure that your building is gauged for safety and stability from wind storm damage. No matter whether it’s winter or summer, it’s crucial to know that your house can withstand the damage that winds and storms can do to it.
When it comes to prevention methods, there are three simple steps you can follow. Let’s take a look at them.
Make Sure Outdoor Items Don’t Turn Into Potential Projectiles
Tornadoes, high winds, and hurricanes can turn something as trivial as a trashcan or a child’s toy into an object that damages your property. When you hear about storm or strong wind warnings, you have to make sure no such objects can be picked up and blown into more vulnerable areas of your property.
Reinforce Susceptible Areas
Garage doors are particularly vulnerable areas that the wind can easily damage. Along with that, all sorts of strong winds, hurricanes, and tornadoes can heavily damage a vital part of your home, namely the roof. When you know that a potential disaster might strike, it’s important to reinforce those more vulnerable parts of your home. For example, you can strengthen the garage door by using braces across the back or by simply replacing it with a stronger door and tracks. The same applies to your roof – a few times a year, you should inspect it and ensure that all its little issues are fixed before they turn into bigger ones. That way, even when disaster strikes, you will know that you did your very best to ensure your home was in top-notch condition to survive strong winds or thunderstorms.
Pay Attention to Your Surroundings
If you live in a house, trees and other kinds of plants likely surround it. While those do make a home look better, they can also potentially cause damage to your house during thunderstorms. One thing you can do to prevent that from occurring is to maintain your landscape regularly – meaning trimming the trees, having the debris raked and disposed of regularly, and so on.
Of course, those actions can’t prevent damage from occurring if the wind is so strong that it uproots a tree, but it can certainly help you during weaker storms where only small branches may be blown off.
In most cases, when we talk about wind damage, people assume the conversations will be about hurricanes and tornadoes, as those are the kinds of natural disasters we see most often in the news. However, as you know by now, wind damage can be even more severe in some situations than that caused by tornadoes or hurricanes. If you live in an area where thunderstorms occur frequently, you need to ensure your home is prepared to face the rougher conditions without being wholly ruined. Typically, that includes fixing any roof issues and ensuring your windows and doors are well-protected and that the landscape surrounding your home is well taken care of.
Hopefully, our article helped you learn more about the potential damage strong winds can cause so that you can take the necessary measures to be prepared and protect your property.