Answers to frequently asked questions regarding a property’s Wind Factor, and the cost of wind damage. 

Wind Factor is part of Risk Factor, a free online tool created by the nonprofit First Street Foundation that makes it easy for Americans to find their property’s exposure to extreme wind events and understand how wind effects will change over time due to changes in the environment. As global temperatures rise at the fastest rates ever recorded, it's essential to understand what factors contribute to wind risk. Use Risk Factor to find property-specific wind risk assessments for any U.S. address.

What is Wind Factor?

A property's Wind Factor is an indicator of its risk of extreme wind exposure over the next thirty years.  The model assigns each property a Wind Factor, ranging from 1 (minimal risk) to 10 (extreme risk). For every location, the likely exposure to extreme wind is calculated for today and 30 years into the future and takes into account the local conditions such as the roughness of the landscape surrounding a property. The expected change in extreme wind likelihood and intensity is influenced by the changing environment. A changing environment means higher air temperatures and higher humidities, which in turn impact weather patterns and hurricanes’ place within them. As the global atmospheric temperature rises at a faster rate than at any point in the planet’s geological record, it changes large-scale weather patterns which impact hurricanes. Learn more about the environmental factors increasing hurricane wind risk. Learn more.

How accurate is Wind Factor?

The peer-reviewed First Street Foundation Wind Model is a geospatially-varying wind model, which means it considers how a location’s likely exposure to high-speed winds is affected by climate change’s impacts. For every location, the likely exposure to extreme wind is calculated for today and 30 years into the future and takes into account the local conditions such as the roughness of the landscape surrounding a property. The model builds a probabilistic forecast of the likely wind speeds for each location in the US by using multiple datasets from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), climate models from the IPCC CMIP6, and simulated hurricanes provided by Dr. Kerry Emanuel of MIT and sampled by Rhodium. Local variations in wind speeds are driven by the roughness of the surrounding area which impacts how winds may be slowed as they flow across the earth’s surface.

Where possible, data has been validated against historic records and government records. All methods used by the First Street Foundation Wind Model have been submitted to scientific peer-review journals. Learn more on First Street Foundation.

How can I remove a property’s Wind Factor?

Wind Factor is a product of the First Street Foundation, a non-profit committed to making climate risk information free and accessible to all.  We are committed to the accuracy of our data and we’re continuously working to refine the Wind Model methodology and incorporate new information into Wind Factor. When additional information is submitted, it is reviewed, and if appropriate, incorporated into the model, and shown on Risk Factor during a scheduled update. 

However, Wind Factors are not assigned on a one-off basis, rather they’re derived from the inputs that go into the Wind Model. These inputs come from publicly available data, therefore, properties or scores cannot be adjusted on a one-off basis directly through Risk Factor. The only way a property’s Wind Factor can change is if new information is submitted that changes the underlying inputs used in the Wind Model. We encourage you to share information that may impact the inputs used in our wind by submitting a request.

How often is Wind Factor updated?

The Risk Factor team is continuously working to refine the wind methodology and incorporate new information into Wind Factor. While the Wind Factor experience is updated regularly, a full Wind Model refresh occurs annually. Sign up for our newsletter to learn about updates as they become available.

How can I reduce my risk? 

Hurricanes, tornados, and severe wind storms can occur anytime. While you can’t prevent severe winds from occurring, there are simple, cost-effective ways to protect your property to minimize damage and stay safe. Being prepared will allow you and your loved ones to remain safe during extreme wind events. 

Mitigating the effects of wind starts with strengthening your home to be able to sustain high winds as well as improving your property layout to reduce wind damage to your building. Finding the right wind solutions and making the right investments to protect your home or building can not only physically protect you from dangerous winds, but can also help reduce costly wind damage.

How much can wind damage cost? 

The amount of damage a building experiences from hurricanes, tornadoes, or other severe wind events, depends on many factors including the buildings’ characteristics such as the building height and the roof material, whether it's in an area at risk of man-made debris, the direction the building faces, or the direction of the wind gusts. The wind damage varies based on the predominant angle between the oncoming wind and the orientation of the building and rooftop.  

To understand the potential damages, First Street Foundation partnered with the global engineering firm Arup. Arup simulated the impact of hundreds of different hurricane scenarios using a virtual model of the building to estimate the extent and severity of hurricane damage on individual buildings. This is then translated to financial loss and downtime. 

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