Science-based actions can reduce damage from high winds, hail and even tornadoes, says IBHS
Mary Anne Byrd
Public Relations Manager
Richburg, S.C., February 16, 2023 – La Niña is affecting the United States for a third consecutive year. With it comes an increased threat of severe weather, especially across the Southeast, reinforcing the need to prepare early to reduce the impact on homes and businesses.
La Niña typically creates drier, warmer winters across the South and cooler, wetter winters in the North. It will likely wane before summer, but as spring approaches, this weather pattern is linked to an active early threat of severe thunderstorms, which can cause wind, rain and hail damage to roofs and garage doors, and all too often, structural damage that forces people from their homes and workplaces.
“Atmospheric cycles, climate variables and their effect on our day-to-day weather may sound concerning; however, they are recurring patterns, and we can prepare for them,” said Dr. Ian Giammanco, lead research meteorologist at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). “Home and business owners should start now, focusing on areas most vulnerable to high winds, heavy rain and hail.”
An estimated 40 percent of insured losses each year are caused by hail and wind damage. Yet advances in building science have identified the most vulnerable parts of a home and effective measures to strengthen them to better withstand the roughly 2,000 hailstorms and 1,300 tornadoes the U.S. experiences every year.
IBHS scientists recommend addressing the two most vulnerable areas of the home — the roof and garage doors — for the greatest impact. A roof won’t be replaced often, but if it is aging or damaged, homeowners should request their roofing contractor follow the FORTIFIED Roof™ standard.
FORTIFIED is a re-roofing method shown in lab and field studies to withstand winds up to 130 mph and also requires shingles that can withstand 2-inch hail impacts.
Garage doors — typically the largest opening on any structure — are also vulnerable. High winds can push a garage door inward, allowing pressure to push up on the roof and surrounding walls, causing a cascade of structural damage to the entire home. Wind-rated garage doors have been tested to verify they can withstand these pressures.
There are also simple, low-cost actions that can have a meaningful impact in reducing the chance of costly storm damage. IBHS offers a free online Thunderstorm Ready guide to take home and business owners through key actions to increase resilience, including:
- Trimming trees, especially those near or overhanging a home or business, that could pose a threat during high winds.
- Using a surge protector to keep electrical equipment safe.
- Organizing the garage so vehicles can fit when hail is in the forecast and there is room to temporarily store items like patio furniture and grills that could be damaged or cause damage in high winds.
- Upgrading to more durable steel gutters and downspouts.
- Installing protective screens on HVAC units.
- Replacing windows and skylights with impact-resistant versions, which can also help make a home more energy efficient.
“Being proactive in putting science-backed guidance into action can give property owners peace of mind ahead of early spring storms,” added Giammanco. “Addressing areas like the roof or garage doors may require financial planning, but property owners can meaningfully reduce severe weather risk today with low-cost options like trimming trees or organizing the garage.”
For more ways to prevent damage from severe weather, see IBHS’s full Thunderstorm Ready guide on disastersafety.org.
About the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)
The IBHS mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss. Learn more about IBHS at ibhs.org.