Understanding High Wind Speeds & Damaging Winds
Storm Season: What is Considered “High Winds” for Florida?
Floridians love a fresh breeze for windy beach days. But we’re also always on the look-out for when a gentle breeze turns into a thunderstorm, causing damage to rooftops, trees, vehicles, and more.
Today we’re going to be going over high wind speed, why they are so damaging, and what to do to prepare for and prevent major storm damage to your space!
What is a High Wind Warning?
There’s a difference between a strong breeze and high wind conditions.
Every area has its own wind scale from the National Weather Service, and the Beaufort wind scale also evaluates wind effects.
In Brevard County, a High Wind Threat has wind between 40 to 57 miles per hour (64 km/h to 91 km/h). During high wind, loose objects blow around, small tree limbs break, power lines go out, and there’s a high to moderate threat to vehicles and boaters on area lakes.
What Causes Wind & Sustained Wind Speeds
High wind speeds during a storm are caused by temperature differences in the atmosphere. Warm air rises faster than cold air, and it creates an area of low pressure as it rises.
The surrounding high-pressure areas move to fill the low-pressure area, causing winds to pick up speed. This is why you often see strong winds preceding a warm front – as the warm front moves in, the temperature difference increases, and winds get stronger. So if you’re wondering why it’s a very windy day, check the temperature!
Windy Day Definitions: Gust & Sustain Wind Speeds
Sustained wind speed and frequent gusts are actually different. Winds considered dangerous can be either gusting or sustained, but we hear about gusts more often, especially if you see a wind advisory.
Sustained Winds: “Sustained wind speed” is evaluated by averaging the speeds over a two-minute period. Sustained speeds are also how we define wind conditions consistent with non-threatening versus discernable-threat speeds (as well as what is considered hurricane-force winds).
Wind Gusts: Frequent wind gusts can be scary, especially if wind conditions allow gusts to last for over 20 seconds. They blow down small trees, break umbrellas, and cause power outages. Gusts are more than 18 mph and at least 10 mph more than the average wind speed.
Damage from High Wind
Windy days can cause a lot of damage. You’re probably familiar with roads full of small branches and seeing shingles blown off of rooftops!
- Power outages are common
- Gusts knock down large tree branches and uproot entire trees
- Entire trees get blown over, causing property damage and blocking roads
- Debris, garbage cans, patio furniture, and small items can damage structures
- Small and large vehicles can be blown off the road
It’s important to be aware of the potential damage that wind can cause. Take steps to protect yourself and your property.
What to Do in a High Wind Warning
Is it a particularly windy day with a warning from the local weather channel? Prevent extensive damage to property and vehicles!
- Bring pets, vehicles, and outdoor furniture into the garage or house
- Get indoors as soon as possible
- Remove hanging items that may blow away
- Prepare for power outages
- Stay away from trees and branches
Prepare for Hurricane-Force Wind Speed
When a hurricane is on the way, it’s time to prepare for that transition from a moderate breeze to high wind conditions. Protect your home by being prepared!
- Tidy up the lawn
- Trim large branches
- Clean your gutters and drains
- Schedule an annual inspection
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