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Can You Use Patio Umbrellas With 20 MPH Wind?

Use your patio umbrella outside during a heavy wind and you might find yourself chasing it down the street. Most umbrellas have some type of base, in which the pole sits. The base adds more support and keeps the upper portion of the umbrella from tilting to one side. Most outdoor umbrellas cannot withstand the pressure from a 20 mph wind.

What Happens During a Storm

Ordinary patio umbrellas are not designed for strong winds.

During a rain- or windstorm, the wind rips through an area, blowing and toppling lighter-weight materials. The wind affects your patio umbrella because it grabs the fabric and drags it along the path of the wind. If the umbrella has lightweight fabric, the wind may pull both the support pole and fabric away. Even umbrellas made from heavier fabric are at risk, as the wind can break the support beams under the fabric.

Prevention

The only type of patio umbrella suitable for keeping open during high winds is a wind-resistant model. A wind-resistant umbrella looks like an ordinary patio model, but it has vents in the fabric. The vents dissipate the air as wind rushes across the umbrella; the vents catch some of the flow and push it under the fabric, letting it move across your patio. You must still use a support pole and base when installing a wind-resistant umbrella.

Expert Insight

Patio Umbrella USA, an online retailer of patio umbrellas, warns against using an ordinary model during a storm. If you notice winds of 20 mph or higher coming through your area, crank the umbrella down into a closed position and move it inside your home or garage. Keep your umbrella inside until the storm passes. Patio Umbrella USA suggests tying the umbrella closed. Use the ties included with your model or simply wrap lengths of rope around the outside.

Warning

Even a light wind causes potential damage to patio umbrellas. The constant motion of the air pushing across the fabric leads to fraying and wearing down of the fabric. When rain or snow accompanies the wind, it increases the level of damage. Most umbrellas feature support beams beneath the fabric. If the wind turns the umbrella inside out or drags the umbrella, you risk damaging the support beams. You cannot properly open or close the piece without those beams. Keeping your umbrella indoors during storms and high winds reduces the chances that the wind will damage the fabric and supports.

About the Author

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.