April showcased Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin, and many other Midwest states. Severe weather awareness week allows us to be mindful of summer storms, and to prepare ourselves and our homes for potential severe weather. It’s crucial to nail down your severe weather safety plans, as well as what you would do if you experience storm damage to your home before it happens.
We will be going over some severe weather facts, tips on how to stay safe in the event of a tornado or other severe weather, and how your home can be damaged due to hail and strong winds. We’re sharing for those that may have been affected by storm damage in La Crosse Wisconsin, but of course these tips will apply no matter where you are!
Tornado and Severe Weather Facts
Tornado Alley is the name of a large area of the United States where tornadoes are most frequent. The borders and states are not well-defined, but for the most part, it stretches from Northern Texas to South Dakota. Despite not being centrally located within “Tornado Alley,” Wisconsin sits just north of that area and still sees an average of 23 tornadoes per year.
Around 80% of the tornadoes that make their way through Wisconsin are considered weak, with winds never exceeding 100 mph. Only 1% of tornadoes in the state will show violent winds over 200 mph. However, these types of storms, regardless of their severity, can cause damage to your home. Having a secure plan to keep your family safe is incredibly important as these storms can happen at any time of the day, and with little to no warning.
Though we may frequently hear of tornadoes developing in open areas like farmland, they can also form over bodies of water—forming waterspouts. So, those people in Wisconsin living on a river or lake should also watch for damage to their lake homes and decks out in the water.
Tornadoes in the state are definitely worrisome, but they are very rare and Wisconites should be more concerned with severe thunderstorms that bring strong winds and hail. Weather.gov states that during the peak storm season, Wisconsin averages about 15 storms that produce large hail 1.5 inches or larger.
Severe thunderstorms can also bring strong wind gusts and heavy rains that lead to flash floods.
What to Do if I Experience Hail Damage on My Home?
Tornadoes are not the only severe weather that can cause damage to your home’s siding or roof. Severe thunderstorms that bring hail, strong winds, and heavy rains can dent shingles, tear off siding, and flood a basement.
Depending on its size, hail can travel anywhere from 24 to 103 miles per hour. If and when that hits your house, you’re looking at some massive damage to your home. Hail can scratch or crack your siding, and dent your roofing shingles.
The first thing you should do in the case of hail damage to your home is to call your insurance company. File a claim with your home insurance and get the ball rolling on that. If you received damage to your vehicle in the driveway as well, call your car insurance company. Second, if you can safely do so, examine the extent of the damage and look for leaks in the roof. Generally, hail is not going to puncture through your shingles, so you have a bit of time before you need to worry about a roof leak.
If you call First American Roofing, we will gladly walk you through every step of the way and assess the damage as soon as we can. We can also temporarily tarp your roof for you in more severe cases so that you can take care of insurance and claims business in the interim.
What Else Can Cause Damage to My Home?
Wind damage may be something to repair more immediately in the event of siding actually being blown off or bent back. This can cause leaks to get behind the other shingles and cause mold or damage to the interior walls. Your siding protects your home from the elements, and if that is damaged, you could be at risk of further damage, especially in peak storm season.
Flash floods can make your home at risk for damage as well, especially if you do not have a sump pump or a basement that can handle that kind of water. First, if you ever notice cracks in your basement walls or floor, seal those up. Groundwater can seep up through those cracks in the event of heavy rainfall.
Also, ensuring your sump pump is in working order, with a battery backup, will save you from any flash floods that come through during peak storm season. To prepare, you should do test runs on your sump pump at least once a year to make sure it works to pump up that sitting water. Battery backups are especially important if you experience a power outage during a storm.
Though tornadoes appear transparent, the form they take builds as they pick up more dust and debris along their path of destruction. That debris, as it sweeps over your home, will batter against your siding and cause plenty of damage. We’ve seen full trampolines end up in people’s yards that had been carried by a tornado for hundreds of yards. Imagine what else it can bring with it that can hit windows, doors, and siding.
How Long Do I Have to Get to Safety?
The damage done to your home from a tornado or severe storm takes a matter of minutes—which seems unbelievable. With tornado speeds lying anywhere between 30 and 70 mph, the time it takes to sweep over your home seems like nothing at all. This means your safety plan at home needs to get you and your family to safety within minutes or even faster.
Earlier this month, we focused on Severe Weather Awareness Week, which included a state-wide tornado drill. If your family missed it, you should continue to run through your safety plan throughout the summer. This plan should consist of a safe room, preferably in the lower level of your home, away from windows, and has a place you can get headcover. Windows can shatter in the event of a storm with high winds, not just due to debris hitting it, but from the pressure that comes within the storm cell. It can blow out the windows, which makes it incredibly important to stay as far away from them as possible.
If your family does not have a basement or crawl space to head to, an interior room with no windows can suffice. Interior laundry rooms and bathrooms can work great, and put the children in the tub/shower with their heads covered. The sturdy tub or shower around them can protect from flying debris.
If you and your family live in an apartment or condo without a basement, you can head to the lowest level possible, under a stairwell, an interior hallway with no windows, or your bathroom or closet. Covering your head with a pillow or the closest object can ensure more security against injury.
What To Do in the Event of Storm Damage?
We asked some experts on what to do right away if you experience hail damage. Check out that blog post here.
If you find yourself in the aftermath of a tornado or other severe weather, before anything else, ensure the safety of you and your family.
As we mentioned before, call your insurance company if you see damage to the exterior of your home. Then, give us a call at First American Roofing. We can get you an inspection, a quote for the repair, and even help tarp your roof in the interim. Our repairs page showcases what and how we will handle repairing your home, siding, roofing, or otherwise.
If you have any other questions on severe weather safety, damage, and protocol, please feel free to give us a call at (608) 305-2257. Stay informed and stay safe.