Understanding wind risks

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It’s important to understand the different types of extreme wind events and what is most likely to occur in your area to better protect your property and yourself.

Wind is one of the most destructive forces during hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe storms. Understanding wind risks and knowing how to protect yourself and your property can help minimize damage and ensure your safety. Here is an overview of the different wind risks associated with these types of storms and what you can do to prepare.

Hurricane wind risks

Hurricanes can produce extremely strong winds that can cause widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, and trees. The strongest winds in a hurricane are usually found near the eye wall, where the storm's strongest thunderstorms are located. It is important to evacuate if you are in an area that is at risk of being affected by a hurricane.

The potential for damage from high-speed wind can be difficult to communicate ahead of a major storm, so rating systems were developed by experts so that the public would be able to better understand how to harden against, prepare for, and respond to hurricanes and tornadoes.

The intensity of a tropical cyclone is measured by its 1-minute sustained wind speed. The higher the wind speed, the higher the categorization of the storm. While the categorization of a storm is often used as a proxy for its destructive capability, it is the 3-second wind gusts that actually cause the most damage to properties and infrastructure.

Tropical Storm - Sustained winds of 39-74 mph

  • Category 1: Sustained winds of 74-95 mph
  • Category 2: Sustained winds of 96-110 mph 
  • Category 3: Sustained winds of 111-129 mph
  • Category 4: Sustained winds of 130-156 mph
  • Category 5: Sustained winds exceeding 157

Tornado wind risks

Tornadoes can produce extremely strong, damaging winds in a very localized area. These winds can cause significant damage to buildings and infrastructure and can be particularly dangerous due to the speed and direction of the wind. Tornado winds can also pick up and throw debris, making it important to find a safe place in your home during a tornado.

Tornadoes are measured by the damage that they cause at specific 3-second wind gust speeds. The higher the wind speed, the higher the categorization of the storm.

  • EF0: Winds of 65-85 mph
  • EF1: Winds of 86-110 mph 
  • EF2: Winds of 111-135 mph
  • EF3: Winds of 136-165 mph 
  • EF4: Winds of 166-200 mph
  • EF5: Winds exceeding 200 

Severe storm wind risks

Severe storms can also produce strong winds that can cause damage to buildings and infrastructure. These winds are often caused by thunderstorms and can be accompanied by heavy rain and lightning.

How to protect yourself from severe wind events

There are many precautions you can take before, during, and after a hurricane, tornado, or severe storm in order to protect yourself and your property from wind damage. Here are some examples to help protect you and your property:

  • Secure loose items around your property: Make sure that loose objects such as outdoor furniture, trash cans, and yard decorations are securely stored or fastened down to prevent them from becoming dangerous projectiles in high winds.
  • Reinforce windows and doors: Install storm shutters or place panels over windows to protect them from shattering in high winds. Secure doors with sturdy bolts to prevent them from being blown open.
  • Trim trees: Remove dead or damaged branches from trees to reduce the risk of them falling and causing damage during a storm.
  • Know your evacuation route: Familiarize yourself with your community's evacuation routes and plan ahead. Make sure to know where you will go and how you will get there if you need to evacuate.

It's important to know what wind solutions are available. By understanding the wind risks associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe storms and taking the necessary precautions, you can help protect yourself and your property. It is always important to stay informed and to follow the instructions of local authorities during these events to ensure your safety. You can learn more about our wind methodology to better prepare.

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