Guest Commentary: Eight factors that impact hurricane damage


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Aug 15, 2023

Guest Commentary: Eight factors that impact hurricane damage

A drive through neighborhoods after Hurricane Ian revealed disproportionate damage to homes and businesses. Some structures were battered and bruised, while the property next door appeared in mint

A drive through neighborhoods after Hurricane Ian revealed disproportionate damage to homes and businesses. Some structures were battered and bruised, while the property next door appeared in mint condition.

How can the same storm cause significant damage to one home and not the next?

Beyond just luck, eight factors come into play.

Impact of weather

Florida is the Sunshine State, but it also features the nation’s most severe weather. Intense heat, high humidity and preponderance of tropical storms and hurricanes can damage even the best-built structures. Obviously, the severity of weather can impact hurricane damage, especially for a roof structure:

• Wind speeds: When meteorologists report hurricane strength, they refer to the maximum sustained winds that a storm produces. Within a storm, there are periods with higher gusts and periods with calmer breezes. Thin squall lines can produce sharp wind gusts, micro-bursts and even tornadoes. This is why homes on some streets appear to sustain more hurricane damage than houses on the next block.

• Direction of wind: In the northern hemisphere, tropical storms and hurricanes spin counterclockwise. That means a storm’s winds blow in all four directions. Where the storm’s eye makes landfall and its direction of travel determines whether a structure will see winds from the north, south, east or west, or all four directions. A roof’s slope and direction could either be an asset or a liability depending on the wind direction.

• Obstruction of wind: Beachfront homes generally experience significant hurricane damage because wind is unimpeded. Inland, though, winds can potentially be slowed by other structures, trees or berms. The smallest home along a street, for example, may be somewhat protected in a row of two-story homes. A two- or three-story home, though, may face the full force of hurricane winds because it stands above the rest.

Impact of roof condition

The roof itself plays a vital role in whether it will survive a hurricane. These are the most important roof-related factors in preventing hurricane damage:

• Age of roof: In Florida, the average expected lifespan of a roof is about 12 to 20 years. Like many products exposed to the elements, roofs break down over time due to heat, moisture, wind and even rodents or insects. Roofs that are 25 or 30 years, or older, are far more likely to sustain hurricane damage than newer roofs.

• Type of roofing materials: In Florida, there are three primary types of residential roofs, tile, shingle and metal. Commercial structures can also feature these materials, but most are flat roofs that require a PVC or TPO membrane roofing system. Of the four, metal is often considered the most hurricane resistant, but none is immune to a Category 4 or 5 hurricane. Wind can pull up nails or screws and tear away adhesives holding shingles and tiles in place. Wind also can send debris flying into tiles, cracking them in half. Heavy rain can cause pooling or ponding on flat roofs.

• Quality of roofing materials: A top-of-the-line product, whether it’s an appliance, vehicle, furniture or roofing material, is typically worth the extra cost. Inferior products may cost less initially, but often break down sooner or have a shorter life expectancy, eating away at any potential savings.

• Workmanship of installation: A roof is only as good as its roofer. Manufacturers offer guidelines on how their products should be installed. The key is having highly trained, experienced roofers working with familiar products and roof styles. Some manufacturers even invalidate warranties if a roofing company did not adhere to installation guidelines.

• Date of last inspection: Home-owners and property managers often assume a roof is in good working condition if they don’t see any visible signs of damage or experience a leak. However, it takes time for water intrusion to rot wood and roofing materials, penetrate insulation and finally the ceiling. Inspections at the start and end of rainy season catch concerns before they become costly problems.

A good roof is an investment that protects your loved ones, valuables and property. Not all hurricane damage is preventable, but the first step in being prepared for the next storm is partnering with a trusted roofing contractor for a thorough inspection.

Rast Bryant is general manager for Lloyd Roofing’s Southwest Florida division, which provides roof installations, repairs and replacements for residential and commercial customers. Visit for more information.

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Impact of weatherImpact of roof condition