Texas Tech University

Tropical Winds Cause Latent Damage at Much Lower Wind Speeds than Previously Thought

Lewis O'Leary

August 4, 2017

Merlin Law Group - On July 9, 2017, the News & Observer (N&O), a Raleigh, North Carolina based newspaper, published a front-page article entitled Nearly 200,000 homes in NC are at risk from tropical winds. The article explains that nearly all "manufactured" (aka mobile) homes will be torn to pieces if they are exposed to a "strong" hurricane.

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety provided the data that the News & Observer used in its article. The industry took notice after Hurricane Andrew (1992) that structures of all kinds sustained damages beyond what the Fujita Scale had forecasted in 1971 at various wind speeds. Texas Tech's Wind Science and Engineering Center had been studying the disparity between what structures were supposed to sustain and the damage actually sustained in high wind events long before Hurricane Andrew. In 2003, the scientists published their findings in a vastly improved version of the Fujita Scale, calling it the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

The Enhanced Fujita Scale shows that older structures are only good for about half the wind force for which they were designed. In 2010, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety built three cosmetically identical pairs of homes in a wind tunnel and conducted three separate tests. In each case, one of the homes was built to the latest design standards and the other was built to earlier standards. The wind speed was steadily increased and in each of the three tests, the older code homes were destroyed before the new codes homes reached the threshold for visible damages.

Read the story here.