Derecho Storms and Severe Wind Damage

Many people have never heard of this type of wind storm before but they can be quite powerful and produce significant damage. As an example, a derecho hit the mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S. in June 2012. This derecho was blamed for 17 deaths, widespread power outages from downed power lines, and excessive property damage.

What is a Derecho?

A derecho is a large, violent, fast-moving, complex of thunderstorms that follow one another along a path of at least 240 miles, with wind gusts of at least 58 mph. Although derechos are very difficult to predict, they often form along the boundary of a large, hot air mass near a jet stream air current.

Derechos can produce winds as violent as a hurricane or tornado and cause similar damage, but they are not confined to the coastal areas of the United States. While derechos can happen at any time of the year during the day or the night, typically, derechos happen in warm weather, during June and July, and in the Northern Hemisphere.

Common Wind Storm Damage

Wind storms in general, and derecho storms specifically, commonly cause the following types of damage to homes and businesses:

  • Roof Damage: High speed winds can dislodge shingles and other roofing materials without impact form outside forces. Also, wind storms often knock down trees and limbs while sending dangerous, flying debris over long distances. If any of debris impacts a residential or commercial property, it can cause extensive damage to the roof and other parts of the structure. Gutter damage is common from both debris impact and from buildup of airborne debris in the gutters.

  • Window and Siding Damage: Flying debris can and does cause significant damage to the sides of houses and buildings. For example, tree branches striking a window at 30 miles per hour will almost certainly break the window. Siding is susceptible to this same type of damage.

  • AC / HVAC Damage: External heating and cooling units are at risk from flying debris and falling trees or branches.

  • Property Damage: Expect to have a large amount of debris to clean up on your property after severe wind storms.

  • Automobile Damage: Automobile damage is very common during wind storms. Broken windows, dents, scratches and paint damage occur often. If you can, park automobiles in a garage or cover them with a car cover for some level of protection against the elements.

Wind Storm Safety and Preparation

Severe winds, especially derecho storms, send so much debris flying the air that it is highly advisable to take cover indoors, in a safe location, away from windows and in lower levels of buildings. If you have never experienced the ferocity of a derecho, it can be difficult to imagine the level of damage these storms can produce. Extreme caution is recommended. Consider derechos as dangerous as tornadoes, and seek shelter in basements or storm cellars if possible. The derecho storm that hit the Washington DC area in June 2012 killed at least 17 people, mainly from trees falling on (or more specifically, through) roofs and automobiles.

Outdoor enthusiasts are at particular risk from this type of storm. 60 kayakers needed to be rescued in Chicago when the June 2012 derecho flipped their boats. Spectators were precluded from attending the third round of the AT&T National golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland due to the dangerous conditions caused by the storm. Hikers and campers cannot seek refuge in forests as the winds from these storms can fell huge sections of trees at once. Even automobiles and mobile homes are not safe as they can be crushed by trees. To be safe as you can, it is imperative to get indoors and into a subterranean level, away from windows, with a standard emergency kit.

Repairing Property Damage from a Wind Storm

Derechos, and all types of wind storms, are "Acts of God", by law. As such, in most cases, your insurance should cover the damage to your home or business. Furthermore, you cannot be singled out for a premium increase by filing an "Act of God" claim. However, insurance companies can increase premiums for everyone in a geographic area due to increased likelihood of storm damage.

To be sure you are treated fairly and get the benefits to which you are entitled under your insurance policy, request a free damage inspection from an NSDC certified contractor experienced in storm restoration claims as soon as possible.

Who is the National Storm Damage Center?

The National Storm Damage Center is an online resource for homeowners and business owners who are located in storm prone areas or are dealing with the effects of a recent storm.

We are here to bridge the gap between customers in need of storm damage repair and reputable contractors familiar with the insurance claim process.

If you would like help with your claim and repair process if you request a free damage inspection from the National Storm Damage Center you can be sure your contractor has passed a rigorous background investigation and has committed to uphold a strict code of ethics.

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The National Storm Damage Center provides everything you need to prepare for and recover from severe storm damage.