Severe Weather and Your Roof, Part 4: Hurricanes and Tornadoes
By J-Conn Roofing, Friday, May 30, 2014

Those who live in the Austin area are well aware of the two biggest weather threats we face each year: hurricanes and tornadoes. Hurricanes form over the ocean and may move toward land. Tornadoes form primarily over land and occasionally may be spawned by hurricanes, such as 1980’s Hurricane Allen; the tornadoes formed from this hurricane were exceptionally devastating to the Austin area. Hurricane systems last for hours or days, whereas tornadoes’ lives are usually measured in minutes.

Though they are very different types of weather events, both cyclonic storm systems produce or are preceded by multiple damaging forces — including torrential rain, tremendous wind and pressure, and hail (more common with tornadoes; rare during hurricanes) — that can be problematic to your roof.

The most noticeable feature common to both storm systems is high-speed winds in a rotating pattern — hurricanes, for hours or days; tornadoes, for shorter durations but of much greater intensity. Winds of this ferocity can damage your roof in a number of ways. A weak tree limb or any unsecured object on the ground can become a high-speed missile that can penetrate or crush your roof. Shingles may be lifted or torn off and items such as vents can be loosened or torn away. The prolonged winds of a hurricane or the incredible pressure variances in a tornado can simply tear a roof from a house.

The vast amounts of wind-driven rain associated with a hurricane can overwhelm your roof’s drainage system. Gutters will fill more quickly than they can drain, and storm-driven debris can clog previously clean gutters in a very short time. Even if your roof stays mostly intact from a cyclonic storm, any existing leak or weakness can be quickly exacerbated, leading to water damage and mold.