Preparing Your Roof For A Record-Setting Hurricane Season

With 2020’s hurricane season already off to a record-setting start, meteorologists anxiously anticipate a slew of named storms – three of which have already made US landfall. Predictions call for up to 19 named storm systems in the Atlantic Ocean alone. Six of those are slated to be major hurricanes (category 3 or higher)! It’s a trend consistent with the last five years, with annual storm activity increasing roughly 10% each storm season.

Hurricane conditions call for a specific combination of high winds and warm water. Water must be at least 80 degrees – all the way down to depths of 50 meters (or more!). Given global warming’s effects on water temperatures across the board, these requirements are being met earlier and earlier in the calendar year. While hurricane season officially began on June 1st, meteorologists and environmental scientists have noted sea surface temperatures warming earlier and earlier each year; 2019’s recordings were history’s highest-ever temperatures.

Storm preparation and home reinforcement are the best ways to protect your family during the unpredictable strength of tropical storms – and fortifying your roof first supports the rest of the home in a HUGE way. Though you and your family may have to evacuate, a storm-ready home will be there after evacuation orders lift – and a stormproof roof can prevent flooding, structural damage, and other catastrophic issues.

Read through our top tips on storm-proofing, and stay safe this hurricane season!

CHECK YOUR DECKING: Roof decking – or sheathing – is the base layer of large boards nailed directly to the rafters. This foundational layer is key to your roof’s structural integrity; if sheathing isn’t properly attached to your home’s frame, high winds can rip the entire roofing system clean off. Ensuring this layer is well-installed is a homeowner’s best armor in combatting a hurricane’s powerful uplift.

BRACE YOUR GABLES: Gables – the triangular section atop a rectangular wall -- can quickly become weak spots during intense wind conditions. These angular sections are more vulnerable to the inward / outward wind forces hurricanes exert; because they’re the highest portion of a home’s walls, they’re exposed to the highest wind speeds, and thus the highest amount of wind pressure. Because a gable’s weakness lies in its connection (or anchorage) to the rest of the wall, the danger here is an outward collapse; the gable end wall will literally fall out, leaving the roof structure exposed and vulnerable from the side.

STRAP IT ALL DOWN: Structurally speaking, the connection between the rafters and the wall plate is among the most crucial connections a home has. To further strengthen that connection, strips of galvanized steel (known as hurricane straps) are used to anchor the rafters in place to the wall plate. The resulting reinforced joint between the two can sustain a much greater uplift capacity, and creates a better distribution of wind force between the roof structure and wall frames. This transference means no one component absorbs too much force – which causes weak spots, structural damage, and further vulnerability.

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