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Here’s How to Identify Storm Damage

Here's How to Identify Storm Damage

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Nature’s fury often strikes unexpectedly in the form of natural disasters, leaving behind a path of storm damage that is challenging to identify and repair.

Storms, whether they come in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, or severe thunderstorms, are capable of wreaking havoc in more ways than one. Physical devastation, financial implications, and emotional distress are some of the consequences of harsh storms. Identifying the destruction is the first step in taking prompt action and initiating the storm damage restoration process.

Continue reading as we dive into the nuances of recognizing storm damage, empowering you to safeguard your property and loved ones.

Types of Storms

Understanding the types of storms that nature brings will help you be prepared for these unexpected events. Each storm has distinct ways it wreaks havoc and brings its own set of challenges. Here are some of the most common types of storms you should prepare for:

  • Blizzards: Blizzards are a combination of high-blowing winds and falling snow, causing very low visibility. Officially, the National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm with winds over 35 mph and visibilities of less than a quarter of a mile for at least three hours. While these conditions must last at least three hours to qualify as an official blizzard, these storms last several days.
    In the United States, blizzards are most common in the upper midwest and the Great Plains. Blizzards increase the risk of car accidents, frostbite, carbon monoxide poisoning, and hypothermia.
  • Hail: Hail is solid ice that forms inside thunderstorm updrafts in extremely cold areas of the atmosphere. The hail falls when the thunderstorm’s updraft is no longer about to support the weight of the hailstones. Hailstones must be at least ¾ inch in diameter to be considered severe.
    Hailstorms commonly occur in a long vertical path, cutting through the middle of the United States from South Dakota to Texas. Extreme hail easily tears up house siding, breaks windows, destroys cars, and causes severe injuries.
  • Lightning: Lightning flashes from storms start inside a cloud. When this spark connects downward, it will send a surge down to the object that produced it. This leaves tall objects such as trees and skyscrapers particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes. Lightning strikes contain intense heat that easily cause fires and damage buildings or other structures.
  • Thunderstorms: There are about 100,000 thunderstorms each year in the U.S. alone, and around 10% reach severe levels. A thunderstorm is considered “severe” when it contains one or more of the following: hailstones of one inch or greater, winds gusting more than 57.5 mph, or a tornado. Thunderstorms tend to have a domino effect and often set off flash floods, lightning fires, tornadoes, and fatal hailstorms.
  • Wind: Damaging winds are those exceeding 50-60 miles per hour. They are often called “straight-line” winds to distinguish the effects from that of a tornado. Anyone living in a thunderstorm-prone area is at risk of experiencing wind-related hazards. High winds easily cause downed powerlines, broken trees, flying debris, building collapses, and injuries.
  • Tornadoes: A tornado is a rotating air column extending from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes rotate violently and can be among the most violent phenomena of storms we experience. Most tornadoes in the U.S. happen in an area nicknamed “Tornado Alley.” This begins in the Southern plains and extends northward through the upper Midwest. The most violent tornadoes might cause automobiles to become airborne, rip buildings to shreds, and send broken glass flying into the air like lethal missiles.
  • Floods: Overflowing water onto normally dry land is considered a flood. Flooding can happen quickly during heavy rains, when snow melts too quickly, or when dams or pipes break unexpectedly. Floods have the potential to occur within minutes or develop over time; they might also last for a short or long period.

Areas most susceptible to flash flooding include urban and mountainous zones. Floods cause power outages, disrupt transportation, pollute drinking water, cause gas outages, damage buildings, lead to water damage and mold, cause mudslides, and more.

Inspecting Exterior Storm Damage

No matter the storm’s size, its ability to cause damage is unparalleled. When disaster strikes, it’s helpful to know what to look for when inspecting the damage. Here are some of the most common ways a storm wreaks havoc on your home’s exterior:

  • Roof Damage: Start by inspecting your roof for missing shingles, looking for water stains on your ceiling, and examining gutters for impairment. Call in professional roof repair if you notice any of these red flags.
  • Siding Damage: Next, inspect your home’s siding for cracks, dents, or holes. This is especially vital after a hailstorm. Look for any areas that may have come loose, detached, or warped due to water damage.
  • Window Damage: Check all windows for broken or cracked glass and damaged frames. Look for signs of water intrusion around windows, such as stains or softening. Also, ensure that all windows open/close and seal properly.
  • Door Damage: Inspect your doors for the same hazards as your windows — broken glass, damaged door frames, water intrusion, broken locks or door handles, and open/close functionality.
  • Foundation Damage: Minor foundational cracks might be from normal wear and tear, but a professional should inspect any cracks that develop shortly after a storm. Any cracks wider than 1/8 of an inch signal serious problems that must be addressed promptly.  
  • Debris and Fallen Trees: Fallen trees, broken branches, and scattered debris can damage and trash your property. Search for any signs of structural damage as you work through the storm damage cleanup. Inspect trees for uprooted roots or leaning trunks, indicating instability and future potential danger.

Inspecting Interior Storm Damage

Although your home is a refuge from harsh storms, its interior can still sustain wounds. Here are some areas to check inside of your home after a storm:

  • Water Damage: Water damage is one of the most common effects of a severe storm — a burst pipe due to a hailstorm, flooding from a thunderstorm, frozen pipes from a blizzard, or another calamity. Check all ceilings and walls for water stains, discoloration, or bubbling paint. These are all signs of a larger problem. Also, inspect your flooring for warping, buckling, or stains. A storm damage restoration company can remedy these issues and restore your home after water problems occur.
  • Electrical Problems: Exposed wires or charred electrical panels are signs of an electrical problem after a storm. Test all outlets and switches to ensure they’re functioning correctly. If you suspect electrical damage, never attempt to address these issues yourself; a professional electrician can assess and address the situation safely and efficiently.
  • Mold and Mildew: Water damage can lead to more significant issues, such as mold and mildew growth. You should never ignore signs of mold or mildew as it can lead to HVAC contamination, wall and flooring damage, health problems, and decreased property value. Check for a musty odor or black/greenish spots.

Steps To Take in a Storm

  • Document the Damage: As you inspect your home’s interior and exterior, take photos of any damage you encounter. These photos will act as helpful visual documentation for insurance claims. Also, include dates and times in your documentation process. 
  • Contact Your Insurance Provider: Call your insurance agent immediately once a storm has subsided and you’ve gathered your bearings. Provide documentation of the problems you’re noticing and any other information that your agent requests. Your agent will help you understand the cost and what is/is not covered.
  • Make Temporary Repairs: If you are awaiting a storm damage cleanup crew or an inspector to come out to your property, safeguard your home in the meantime. This might mean covering your damaged roof with a tarp or using buckets to capture any water leaks. Keep a record of any expenses related to temporary repairs, as these might be reimbursable through your insurance company.
  • Seek Professional Help: Storm damage restoration companies are vital in recovering from the aftermath of a severe storm. These trained professionals offer storm damage cleanup services to help resume your life’s normalcy.

Recover From a Storm With Utah Disaster Clean Up and Restoration

With over 20 years of experience, Utah Disaster Clean Up and Restoration is here to help you recover after storm damage. We strive to do our best to restore and reconstruct your home to its former glory.

Our fast and friendly service will get you through this stressful experience quickly and seamlessly. 
We know how taxing and tedious it is to deal with a disaster in your property. Whether it’s a fire, flood, storm, or something else, merely thinking about it can be overwhelming. That’s why we pride ourselves on our timely and quality service.

Contact Utah Disaster Clean Up & Restoration today, and let our trained professionals take charge of your water damage restoration. 

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