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Windstorm Safety — Protect Your Family and Property

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property destruction

The September windstorm highlighted the risk Utahns face almost every 10 years. Close to 200,000 residents lost power to their homes and thousands of trees — both in public and residential properties — were torn down. While homes received minimal damage, stronger windstorms might be on the horizon.

Destructive Winds

Strong canyon winds wrought havoc on the northern parts of Utah. Canyon winds are caused when cool air accumulates on one side of a mountain or ridge — creating a cold front. Once the cooler air spills over, changes in atmospheric pressure result in downslope winds. The resulting windstorm had speeds exceeding 100 mph. The resulting damage is estimated at more than $6 million and clean up crews took weeks to finish their tasks.

One fatality was recorded — a trucker who died of head trauma. Strong winds blew open his cab door — striking him in the face and knocking him to the ground. Utah encountered a windstorm of similar magnitude in 2011 that blew through Davis. The 2011 windstorm was more damaging — as homes and businesses reported more than $75 million in damages.

Staying Safe

Extreme weather events hit Utah roughly every 10 years (1999’s tornado and 2011’s windstorm). However, nobody knows when or where they might hit. Listen to the news or radio and heed the warnings that may come. Stay indoors during times of rough weather. Strong winds and flying debris can inevitably cause accidents — so avoid driving as much as possible.

Check your elderly family members to make sure they’re safe or take them with you just to be sure. Fortify your basement (in case of really strong winds) and store a month’s worth of emergency supplies. You can (literally) weather the storm in safety even if your house gets damaged. Opt for dry food supplies — they are easily stored and can last for more than 25 years.

Protecting Your House and Property

Blue small house with spring landscape from backyard with green grass

You can minimize any damage to your property with a bit of preparation. Tie-down or secure any patio furniture or equipment by anchoring or bolting them to the ground. If they are light enough, you can also move them inside. Your house’s roof will probably take the brunt of the damage, so call a contractor to have it checked. Metal roofing is especially vulnerable to strong winds — so be sure to have them bolted down. Make sure your garage doors are still in good condition or have them replaced as soon as you can.

Glass windows and doors can shatter and send glass flying into your house. Make sure to secure them with boards or storm shutters if a windstorm is reported. Make sure your trees are healthy and following regulations. Cottonwood Heights enacted an ordinance concerning trees to keep both residents and trees safe from any occurrence and the practice is being adopted by other cities in Utah. Tree specialists can also determine if your trees are vulnerable to winds and tell you the appropriate tree care measures.

It may be another 10 years before another windstorm hits — or it could be next year. Don’t underestimate the damage that nature can cause and make preparations to keep your family and property safe.

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