Damaging winds are a common cause of property damage. These winds can reach speeds of 50-60 miles per hour, causing significant structural damage to buildings, uprooting trees, and even turning harmless objects into dangerous projectiles. The effects can range from minor cosmetic damage, such as blown off roof tiles, to more substantial destruction like broken windows, fallen power lines, or collapsed structures. It's crucial for property owners to understand the potential risks associated with damaging winds and take appropriate preventive measures to safeguard their property.
What are the types of damaging winds?
There are a few different types of damaging winds , each with its own unique characteristics and potential for destruction. These include straight-line winds, downbursts, microbursts, derechos, haboobs, and tornadoes.
Straight-line winds are the most common type of damaging winds. These are a result of downdrafts from thunderstorms or other types of severe weather systems. As their name suggests, straight-line winds move in a straight direction and can cover large areas, up to hundreds of miles wide. This widespread wind damage is what differentiates them from tornadoes, which are more localized events.
Downdraft winds are a specific type of damaging straight-line winds. These occur when cool, dense air within a thunderstorm falls rapidly to the ground, pulling surrounding air with it and creating strong gusts that can reach hurricane strength. These winds can cause significant damage to structures, trees, and power lines.
Microbursts are small but fierce downdraft winds that can cause localized, concentrated damage. These occur when a small area of cold air rapidly descends from a thunderstorm and impacts the ground, creating an outward burst of wind. Microbursts are dangerous because they can be difficult to detect and can cause severe damage within a short period.
A derecho is a widespread destructive windstorm that can cover large areas, sometimes hundreds of miles wide. These intense straight-line winds move rapidly and often spawn strong thunderstorms, causing significant damage to structures and vegetation in their path.
Haboobs are a type of damaging wind caused by dust storms. These occur in arid regions where dry, hot winds pick up and carry dust particles, creating a dense wall of sand or dust that can reduce visibility and cause extensive property damage.
Tornadoes are another type of damaging wind event. These violent rotating columns of air can reach speeds over 300 miles per hour, causing catastrophic damage in their path. Unlike straight-line winds, tornadoes have a smaller footprint and are more localized events.
Which type of wind is the most damaging?
According to the National Weather Service, straight-line winds are often responsible for a majority of the wind damage associated with a thunderstorm. If you were to survey the damage pattern left by straight-line winds, you would see debris (such as uprooted trees) laid out in nearly parallel rows. Roofs, siding, windows, and fences are typically the most commonly damaged parts of real estate in a straight-line wind storm.
How do I protect property from wind damage?
There are several steps that property owners can take to protect their buildings and belongings from damaging winds:
Regular maintenance: It's essential to regularly inspect and maintain your property, including the roof, windows, doors, and landscaping. Properly securing loose shingles or damaged areas can prevent them from becoming projectiles in strong winds.
Reinforce structures: Consider adding reinforcements to your property, such as hurricane straps or clips, to strengthen the connection between the roof and walls.
Prune trees: Regularly trimming tree branches can prevent them from breaking off and causing damage during a windstorm.
Secure outdoor items: Make sure to secure any outdoor items that could become projectiles in high winds, such as patio furniture, grills, and trash cans.
By taking preventive measures, property owners can minimize the potential damage caused by damaging winds. Although insurance typically covers wind damage, it's also essential to regularly review and update your coverage to ensure you are adequately protected in case of a wind-related disaster.
COMING SOON: Current and prospective property owners should also be aware of the wind damage risk in their location to ensure that they can properly prepare for a damaging wind event. LandGate’s free property report and LandApp subscription will soon provide Straight-Line Wind Risk levels for any U.S. property.