How Hurricanes Affect a Roof – the Science

After hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit the Texas and Florida coasts, Maria moved over Puerto Rico. As these three communities and our country as a whole works to rebuild and move on from the devastation caused by these storms, we in the roofing business ask ourselves what can be done to improve infrastructure and homes to withstand a hurricane?

A roof will take on the most force from severe weather like a hurricane, and is often more vulnerable to damage than the rest of a home or building. After hurricanes move through an area, roof damage dominates insurance claims across the board, often because roofs were not properly replaced or maintained when it wasn’t hurricane season. Of course, strong winds topping 150 miles per hour also obviously contribute to extreme levels of damage, but regular maintenance can slightly mitigate that damage. Unfortunately, a damaged roof during and after a hurricane can lead to flooding inside the home, plus mold and infestations that come with water invading a structure.

It’s known that corrugated metal roofing tends to do very well against hurricane-level winds due to how roofing panels fit together and lock. Of course, that kind of toughness isn’t just isolated to tropical storms – it applies in the Front Range as well which sees events like hail storms, heavy snow and even funnel clouds and tornadoes throughout the seasons.

Research also shows that square homes actually withstand hurricanes better than more randomly-shaped structures. Paneled roofs can usually offset the force of high winds and more easily survive extreme weather like hurricanes. Gable and multi-level roofs also do better under these conditions. According to a 2007 study by Dr. Rima Taher of the New Jersey Institute of Technology the best results come from 30-degree roof slopes in high winds.

Contact your local Red Cross office about how you can help with hurricane relief efforts in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

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