An under-discussed aspect of extreme weather events is the severe damage that accompanying storm winds can cause to both your land and your property.
Hurricanes are massive storms that can span hundreds of miles and bring sustained winds of over 74 mph. These wind speeds are powerful enough to uproot trees, damage buildings, and cause widespread power outages.
Additionally, hurricanes can also generate a storm surge, which is a large wall of water that can inundate coastal areas. The combination of high winds and a storm surge can be devastating, and it is one of the reasons that hurricanes are such a major threat.
As the hurricane approaches land, the winds begin to increase, which can cause the storm surge to grow larger. If the storm surge occurs along with a high tide, it can result in even more destruction to nearby municipalities.
Why Learning About Hurricanes is Important in Florida
Hurricane season in Florida runs from June 1st to November 30th. And while the Sunshine State is no stranger to these tropical storms, they can still cause serious damage. That’s why it’s important for Floridians to educate themselves about hurricanes and how to prepare for them.
Hurricanes are classified according to their wind speed, with Category 1 being the weakest and Category 5 being the strongest. While even a Category 1 hurricane can cause significant damage, it is the higher categories that pose the greatest threat.
A battery-operated radio is one of the most important items you can have in your hurricane preparedness kit, as it will allow you to stay informed about weather conditions and updates from officials. Other items you should consider packing include non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, a flashlight, and extra batteries. Of course, preparation is only part of the equation. Once a hurricane has been identified as a potential threat, it is important to monitor its progress and be ready to evacuate if necessary.
Remember, your safety is always the priority. By educating yourself about hurricanes and taking steps to prepare for them, you can help ensure that you and your family remain safe during hurricane season and that your home is properly protected.
A major aspect of hurricane preparedness is also understanding the types of winds that your local area may experience during a period of storm activity. This can also help you determine how to best protect various parts of your home to minimize or prevent damage to the exterior or interior.
At a high enough speed, wind can uproot trees, destroy mobile homes and even rip the rooftops off of structures. The following are 3 specific kinds of damaging winds that you should know about if you live in an area prone to extreme weather events:
1. Straight-line Winds:
A Straight-line wind is wind that is moving in a linear pattern, instead of in a circular fashion (like a tornado). Most thunderstorms feature straight-line types of winds, and these are often the biggest cause of damage to land and properties during storms, as this wind pattern can cover hundreds of miles, leaving a massive path of damage and destruction in its wake.
Because straight-line winds blow in a single direction, they can build up tremendous speed and force, which can easily tear roofs off of homes and cause other structural damage. They can also create powerful storms known as downbursts, which can produce flash flooding and tornadoes.
One way to protect against straight-line winds is to install hurricane-rated windows and doors on your home’s bottom level. Their superior sealing technology will help to resist the force of elevated water levels and will also provide a sturdier barrier against low-flying debris that are launched by these winds.
2. Gust Front Winds:
A Gust Front typically forms when warm thunderstorm air collides with air that has already been chilled by falling rain. This process is more than just a meteorological curiosity; it is a force of nature that can inflict significant damage. As the warm air is lifted by the colder, denser air, it creates an invisible barrier of turbulence, akin to a stormy sea crashing against a calm shoreline.
Characteristics of Gust Fronts include a sudden shift in wind direction, violent gusts of wind, and a conspicuous drop in outside temperature. This drop in temperature can sometimes be so drastic that it feels like walking from a balmy summer day into an air-conditioned room. Additionally, the sky often takes on a unique appearance, with ominous clouds forming a distinctive ‘shelf’ or ‘arcus’ formation that can be a telltale sign of an incoming Gust Front.
These winds can intensify with frightening speed. One moment, there may be a gentle breeze, and the next, hurricane-like winds are buffeting the area. This rapid escalation often catches people off-guard, contributing to the danger posed by Gust Fronts.
The power and unpredictability of Gust Fronts mean that they can wreak havoc on structures not sufficiently secured to the ground. Mobile homes, in particular, are at high risk. These structures, typically not designed to withstand such violent wind forces, can be easily toppled or even lifted clean off the ground, with potentially catastrophic consequences for those inside. But it’s not just mobile homes at risk. Other structures like awnings, sheds, and even roofs of firmly anchored buildings can be damaged or destroyed.
Trees, especially those that are old or diseased, can be uprooted or snapped, creating additional hazards like blocked roads or damaged power lines, which could lead to widespread power outages. Even seemingly harmless items like garden furniture or children’s toys can become deadly projectiles when hurled by the force of a Gust Front.
Derechos are distinct meteorological phenomena that have been known to cause widespread and severe damage. Unlike regular storms, a Derecho is an event characterized by persistent, strong winds that sweep across a large expanse of land for an extended period of time. The name itself, originating from the Spanish word for ‘straight’, is aptly descriptive of the straight-line wind damage typically associated with these events.
Interestingly, Derechos are not a singular occurrence; they are rather a series of interconnected, smaller wind events. These include phenomena such as microbursts and downbursts, each individually powerful and capable of causing extensive damage. When these events converge and collectively sweep across an area, they form what is known as a Derecho. These Derechos can sometimes span hundreds of miles and last for several hours, making them a formidable force of nature.
Another feature of Derechos is their association with fast-moving thunderstorms. While the thunderstorms are a significant concern, it is the windstorms that pose the most considerable threat. They can reach hurricane-force speeds, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake that can include damaged homes, toppled trees, and widespread power outages.
Florida, with its tropical climate and flat terrain, is especially susceptible to Derechos, particularly during the balmy summer months when conditions are ripe for these colossal windstorms. Recognizing this vulnerability is critical for Florida residents and provides them the knowledge necessary to safeguard their homes and properties.
Preparation and proactive measures are key when bracing for a potential Derecho. Homeowners are encouraged to regularly trim trees and shrubs, minimizing the risk of branches becoming dangerous projectiles in high winds. Hurricane shutters are another beneficial addition, offering an extra layer of protection against powerful winds and potential flying debris.
Securing loose objects in the yard is a simple yet effective precautionary measure. This can include items such as lawn furniture, barbecue grills, and children’s play equipment, which can be tossed around by strong winds, causing damage or injury.
Moreover, investing in hurricane-resistant windows and doors can greatly enhance a property’s safety during a Derecho. These reinforced openings not only help prevent shattering caused by wind-borne debris but also maintain the integrity of the house structure against wind pressure and possible water intrusion.
Should You Get Florida Wind Insurance?
In Florida, wind insurance can be a crucial consideration for homeowners due to the region’s susceptibility to storms and hurricanes. Here are some key points to consider when deciding whether to invest in this form of insurance:
- Location: If your home is in a high-risk wind zone or a designated hurricane area, wind insurance could be a prudent investment, as standard homeowner’s insurance typically does not cover wind damage.
- Home Vulnerability: Consider the age and materials of your home. If they’re not built to resist high winds, and repairs would be costly, wind insurance can provide necessary coverage.
- Personal Property and Landscaping: Windstorms can damage more than just your home’s structure. Wind insurance can cover the cost of damage to personal property and landscaping.
- Cost-Benefit Analysis: Weigh the deductible and premium costs of wind insurance against potential wind damage repair costs. An insurance agent or financial advisor can help with this analysis.
Ultimately, while the decision to get wind insurance is personal and should reflect your risk tolerance and financial situation, it’s an option worth considering for many Florida homeowners due to the state’s propensity for wind-related weather events.
Protect Your Home Against These Types of Winds with Hurricane Windows and Doors
While these 3 types of damaging winds are created by different meteorological factors, the end result of all of them can be severe property damage, injury and loss of life. If you live in an area where storms and wind events are common, we recommend installing hurricane-proof windows and doors, which offer protection from much more than just hurricanes. Trust us – you’ll be glad you did.
At Paradise Exteriors, we are the proud exclusive installers of Paradise Platinum, Gold, and Silver Series hurricane windows and doors for all of South Florida. With a wide range of customer-friendly financing and warranty options, you can pay less now while enjoying the long-term benefits of enhanced hurricane protection.
To learn more, contact us for a free estimate.