About Wind Damage
Wind damage is caused by powerful windstorms, including thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes. Windstorms are characterized by their fast and violent wind gusts and may coincide with rainfall, although this isn’t always the case. The threat of wind increases with wind speed, as higher winds lead to a higher threat to life and property.
According to the National Weather Service, different wind speeds carry different threats:
- Wind speeds between 25 to 39 mph present a moderate hazard
- Wind speeds of 40 to 57 mph pose a high threat
- Wind speeds over 58 mph are the most dangerous and pose an extreme threat to people and property
All 50 American states can experience damaging windstorms, but thunderstorm-prone areas are most likely to experience severe windy weather. The stormiest region in the United States is in a central strip that extends from southern Minnesota down to Texas.
What Are Straight Line Winds?
Straight line winds are powerful winds generated by thunderstorms that can cause significant damage, extending for hundreds of miles. Straight line winds exceed 50 miles per hour and are common in thunderstorm-prone areas.
Derechos are one type of warm-weather thunderstorm system with straight line winds.
Derechos are bands of thunderstorms or showers that cover a wide area and last for a considerable amount of time. Derechos can produce hurricane-force winds up to 100 miles per hour and tornadoes, as well as heavy rains and floods, resulting in significant potential destruction.
Risks of Wind Damage
Wind damage poses risks to the American way of life, as high winds cause unpredictable destruction and chaos. Damaging winds can uproot objects, including trees, furniture and pieces of houses while flying debris and falling projectiles can crush anything in their path.
Windstorm damage threatens personal property, health and safety and finances.
Windstorms can quickly damage or destroy homes and wreak havoc on property. Common property damage during windstorms include:
- Roofs: Roof damage is typical after high winds, with loose shingles and roof edges most likely to be impacted. As winds exceed 58 mph, even secure shingles can be ripped off of roofs. If water seeps into your home’s roof, structural damage may ensue.
- Windows and doors: Windows and garage and entry doors are the next most vulnerable to high wind damage. These openings are weak points within the home, and glass can shatter if exposed to high winds. Once a window or door is broken, wind can generate uplift forces inside the house, causing structural and roof damage.
- Outdoor structures: Decks, landscaping and outdoor furniture are also susceptible to damage during windstorms, as they endure direct contact with gusts of high winds.
It’s important to perform inspections and maintenance and secure outdoor furniture prior to major storms.
Health and Safety
People are safest when they are indoors during a windstorm, as high enough winds can sweep people away. Projectiles can also come out of nowhere, hurting anyone in their path. But even indoors, damaging winds pose a direct and indirect threat to the health and safety of people.
The flooding that accompanies many storms puts people at risk of drowning.
Strong winds also destroy power lines, causing long-lasting power outages that can coincide with freezing temperatures. Downed power lines also create an electrocution risk.
Seniors and people with mobility issues suffer the most during extended power outages, especially when they don’t have proper assistance.
Windstorms can cause devastating financial loss that lingers long after the storm has passed.
While most insurance companies cover wind damage from storms, there are frequent exceptions.
For example, roofs that were near the end of their life expectancy or had existing wear and tear may not be covered. Homeowners who have to pay for part or all of their home’s wind damage out of pocket may find it difficult to recover financially.
Wind Damage Cleanup and Restoration
Wind damage cleanup occurs after the storm has passed and the winds have settled down. Wind cleanup and restoration can take days, weeks or even months, depending on the extent of the damage.
After any damaging windstorm, you should take the following steps to clean up the damage and restore your property and home:
1. Ensure Everyone’s Safety
First and foremost, you need to ensure everyone remains safe. Do not go outside until local authorities have advised you that it’s safe to do so.
Once the storm has passed, and the area is considered safe, go outside with caution. Report any fallen power lines immediately and stay clear of the area until they are repaired.
You may then begin general safety cleanup. Clear any fallen trees, remove loose debris or objects that may fall or shift, clean up broken glass, and otherwise ensure that people on your property are not at risk of injury.
2. Inspect for Damage
Next, you should inspect your home and property for damage and prepare for your insurance claim. Take photos and videos of the damage, and record detailed notes about what you discover.
As soon as you have a clear understanding of all the damage to your property, contact your insurance company to confirm the details of your homeowners’ insurance policy and begin the claims process.
3. Contact Storm Damage Restoration Professionals
Storm damage restoration companies offer 24-hour emergency service and will help you repair your home after a windstorm. These repairs must be performed by experienced professionals who can complete the work quickly and effectively.
Wind damage needs to be repaired quickly to ensure the damage doesn’t worsen and to prevent further damage. For example, unrepaired roof damage can quickly lead to water damage, resulting in health hazards and even more destruction of property.
Professional restoration services will help you repair any damage to your home, and allow you to return to everyday living as soon as possible. Many restoration companies will also help you make preventative improvements that will allow your home to better weather future storms.
Preventing Wind Damage
If you live in a risky region, you should take ongoing steps to prevent wind and hail damage. Performing preventive maintenance to both your home and yard as well as installing the proper storm reinforcements will minimize potential wind or tornado damage significantly.
Maintaining your home is one of the best ways to prevent wind damage. Fortify your roof by replacing missing shingles and nailing down existing shingles and roofing materials as they become loose.
When doing a roof replacement, choose impact-resistant shingles and anchor the roof to the wall framings to prevent uplift damage.
Landscape and Yard Maintenance
You should also maintain the trees and shrubs on your property to ensure they are healthy and most-likely to withstand strong winds. Trim and remove dead tree branches and greenery, and ensure live trees would not crush your home if they fell over.
Secure all outdoor patio furniture or bring items inside prior to a storm.
Storm Shutters and Reinforcement
Protect your windows and doors with storm shutters and use high-impact glass or shatter-resistant film to reinforce the glass. Doors should also be reinforced, and you may want to consider building a safe room for your family.
During a storm, all electronic devices should be turned off and unplugged to prevent power surge damage.
Does Homeowners’ Insurance Cover Wind Damage?
Homeowners insurance typically covers some severe weather wind damage when thunderstorms, hurricanes or tornadoes cause it. Roofs, windows, siding, fences and personal property may all be covered by insurance policies. However, coverage varies significantly, and homeowners should take the time to understand the limits of their policies.
For example, basic insurance policies only cover the cash value of a roof repair and will depreciate the value of a roof based on the pre-storm condition, age and obsolescence. This type of coverage is standard for roofs and, if a roof is too old or neglected, roof repair may not be covered by insurance.
You should submit an insurance claim for wind damage as soon as it is safe to do so.
After the storm has passed, assess and document the damage and then immediately phone the insurance company to initiate a claim and confirm the details of your policy coverage.