The Effects of Increased Wind Speed on Property Damage

High wind speeds can cause significant damage to property.

Gale Force Wind

Hurricanes, cold fronts, strong areas of low pressure and even simple thunderstorms can produce winds strong enough to cause damage and threaten buildings and boats. Understanding the level of threat posed by sustained winds at high speeds can help you to minimize the risks to property and physical well-being.

Winds 39 to 54 mph (miles per hour) are considered to be non-severe, gale-force winds. Small twigs, weak limbs and loose shingles can blow off and cause FOD (flying object damage) to structures and unprotected glass windows. Old or weak structures may sustain minor damage. Shallow-rooted trees may be pushed over if excessively wet conditions are present.

Violent Storm

Winds at 54 to 72 MPH are classified as severe, violent storm strength winds. Larger limbs break off and shallow-rooted trees are pushed over. Old/weak structures and shingles can take significant damage. Chimneys, antennas and mobile homes take damage. Structures with high surface areas begin to carry away, such as awnings, carports and signs.

Hurricane Force

Winds that are 75 to 89 MPH are the beginning of the hurricane-force winds. Trees may be uprooted or broken. Weak or open structures will sustain severe damage. Good roofs will lose shingles, and weaker roofs will begin to peel off. Significant threat from flying objects is present because of the larger, heavier items becoming airborne. Vehicles in motion can be blown off the road.

Significant Severe

Winds that are 90+ MPH are significant severe winds. Trees may be flattened. Moderate damage to strong roofs and weak roofs are severely damaged. Weak structures are destroyed and mobile homes severely damaged and blown off of their blocking or rolled over.

Other Conditions

Wind speed is not the only factor when estimating potential property damage. Wet soil and proximity to water can result in significantly more damage from less wind. Trees standing in wet soil can be overturned with less wind than they would if the soil conditions were dry. Wind-driven water can cause more property damage than wind alone, especially if the wind causes broken windows or roofs to be de-shingled ahead of the wind-driven water.