Use our guide to prepare your roof for the 2021 hurricane season with regular inspections, additional support, and specially designed roofing materials.
Is Your Roof Ready for Hurricane Season?
Spring is often the start of outdoor projects for many homeowners. Pruning, mulching, planting, and tidying up flower beds are basic early chores, and maintenance tasks like re-staining decks and replacing edging quickly follow.
Homeowners that live along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific coastlines also need to safeguard their home and outdoor areas for the upcoming hurricane season. Hurricane-Preparedness Week is usually designated sometime in mid-May.
When is the 2021 Hurricane Season?
For the 2021 hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has chosen May 9-15. During this time, homeowners are encouraged to plan for the upcoming season, including confirming evacuation routes, stocking emergency supplies, and reinforcing their home and roof.
Although hurricane season doesn’t officially start until June 1, there have been plenty of named storms occurring in May. With a little advanced preparation and the use of specially designed roofing products, like shingles engineered for high wind resistance, homeowners can help ensure their home’s roofs are ready for possible strong gales and driving rain.
What Causes Hurricanes?
Hurricanes are formed when humid tropical air rises in an area of low pressure over the sun-warmed ocean. The moist air is heavy with evaporated water, and once it reaches higher elevations, it condensates into clouds. The clouds grow and form thunderstorms, some reforming again and again.
Eventually, the whole mass of clouds and winds starts to rotate due to the earth’s spin around a central core. Storm winds can be clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on whether the system is north or south of the equator. Hurricanes will continue to strengthen if they can feed on warm moist ocean waters. Once they move into cooler regions or over land, they typically start to weaken.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration categorize storms by their wind speed. Category 1 hurricanes have sustained wind speeds at or greater than 74 miles per hour. Hurricanes in category 5 can have sustained winds over 157 miles per hour and cause catastrophic damage.
Hurricane experts attempt to predict the number of tropical storms and potential hurricanes for each upcoming season (June 1 to November 30). According to Dan Kottlowski, a meteorologist at Accuweather, 2021 may be an above-normal season for tropical activity in the Atlantic.
During the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, there were 30 named storms and 12 U.S. direct hits. The hope is that 2021 will not see quite this much activity, with 16-20 named storms, 7-10 hurricanes and maybe 3-5 major hurricanes. When predicting hurricanes, many factors come into play, including past trends and the Pacific and Atlantic water temperature.
“The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 rating based only on a hurricane’s maximum sustained wind speed. This scale does not take into account other potentially deadly hazards such as storm surge, rainfall flooding, and tornadoes. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale estimates potential property damage. While all hurricanes produce life-threatening winds, hurricanes rated Category 3 and higher are known as major hurricanes*. Major hurricanes can cause devastating to catastrophic wind damage and significant loss of life simply due to the strength of their winds. Hurricanes of all categories can produce deadly storm surge, rain-induced floods, and tornadoes. These hazards require people to take protective action, including evacuating from areas vulnerable to storm surge. *In the western North Pacific, the term “super typhoon” is used for tropical cyclones with sustained winds exceeding 150 mph.” – https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshws.php
While hurricanes are a fact of life for homeowners living near or on the ocean, there are several strategies you can take to safeguard your home and family.
Follow and obey evacuation orders.
Create an emergency plan.
Stock up on supplies.
Plan for power outages.
Prepare your home by shuttering windows, cleaning gutters and downspouts, stowing outdoor equipment and checking the sump pump.
Protecting Your Roof During a Hurricane
Whether it’s a catastrophic hurricane or a powerful tropical depression, wind gusts, flying debris, and torrential downpours can cause significant damage to your home. Roofs are especially vulnerable, due to their exposed location and large surface area.
Should your home experience torn-off shingles, you run the risk of water infiltrating through the roof deck and into your walls and ceilings. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do ahead of time to make sure your home’s roof is ready for hurricane season.
Arrange for a Pre-Season Inspection
Your home’s roof will have a better chance of making it through a severe storm unscathed if you take care of problem areas before bad weather arrives. Schedule a roof inspection prior to hurricane season to check for loose or cracked shingles and damaged flashing. This is also a good time to discuss ways to shore up your roof in case of strong winds.
Provide Added Support
If you live in a region that’s prone to hurricanes, you might want to reinforce your roof’s frame. A professional roofing contractor can explain the pros and cons of various roof strengthening methods, such as:
Choose Quality Products
During a hurricane, the winds created can cause a powerful uplift, capable of peeling shingles off the roof’s surface. Edges and eaves are especially vulnerable. Once your shingles are gone, the wind starts to work on your underlayment, and soon your roof becomes defenseless against the pounding rain.
Wind gusts can also carry objects, from tree branches to lawn furniture, turning them into projectiles that can damage shingles and tear off flashing. Look into these roofing solutions to help prepare for the upcoming 2021 hurricane season.
Asphalt shingles. Make sure your roof is ready for hurricane season from the start by opting for strong, high-performing asphalt shingles. Owens Corning® Duration® series shingles feature patented SureNail® Technology for nail pull-through prevention and greater wind uplift protection during storms.
Asphalt cement. For added security, use asphalt cement under shingle tabs, on ridges, and the roof edges.
Synthetic underlayment. Underlayment provides an additional layer of protection between the wood decking and the shingles, mainly to guard against wind-driven rain. Synthetic underlayment can help keep the elements out and remain securely attached to the roof decking should shingles tear off.
Ice and Water Barriers. Ice & Water Barriers are designed to protect the roof where water tends to collect or flow, including valleys, vents, chimneys, and skylights. During a hurricane, the wind can drive rain in horizontal sheets. Self-adhered underlayment can help prevent water from penetrating the roof deck. In areas prone to hurricanes contractors may choose to apply WeatherLock® Ice and Water Barrier over the whole roof.
Be a Proactive Homeowner
When it comes to hurricanes, being prepared is much better than reacting to an emergency. Keep your home hurricane-ready with regular inspections and reliable products designed to defend against wind gusts, driving rain, and flying debris.
Check into Potential Insurance Discounts
Homeowners who are proactive in protecting their homes may benefit from insurance discounts. Some states even require insurance providers to offer discounts to homeowners who observe hurricane-related building codes. Depending upon your insurance carrier, you may need to schedule a wind mitigation inspection. During this assessment, a certified inspector will determine how well your home can potentially withstand strong winds. They’ll look at the siding, windows, doors (especially the garage doors), and, of course, the roof.
If your home’s roof is starting to show signs of wear and tear or you would like a pre-hurricane season inspection, consult with an independent roofing contractor. They can discuss the benefits of repair vs. a total roof replacement and advise you on hurricane prevention strategies for your roof.