Blizzard Damage

Blizzard Damage to your house.

blizzard damage

Blizzard damage is not uncommon in the US. Winter storms strike the northern part of the United States every year. A winter storm occurs when various types of precipitation are formed that will only occur at low temperatures. Winter storms bring more than cold weather. They often bring blizzard conditions with heavy snow, icy conditions, strong winds, and everything that goes along with that. Blizzards are a dangerous combination of gusting snow and wind that results in very low visibility. They do not always bring heavy snow accumulation and severely cold weather. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) will issue a blizzard warning if the following four conditions are met: falling or blowing snow, wind speeds of 35 mph or more, visibility of a quarter-mile or less, and these conditions must be forecast to last at least 3 hours. There is no requirement for a certain amount of snowfall, which means you could have a blizzard with only one inch of snow.  They can also form even if it is not snowing at the time of the blizzard. If there is snow on the ground and the 35 mph winds blow it around to reduce visibility to one-quarter mile or less for three hours, you have a ground blizzard. A ground blizzard can be as bad as a regular blizzard. The deadliest part of the blizzard is the wind, not the snow.

An ice storm is a storm that results in a minimum of .25 inch of ice on surfaces. It is characterized as a winter storm with freezing rain. Ice storms can be more common than blizzards in the United States, averaging 16 per year from 1982 to 1994. Meteorologists can predict ice storms but they can occur with little or no warning. In the United States, most ice storms are in the northeast, but they have occurred farther south. The freezing rain covers everything with heavy, smooth glaze ice, making it hazardous to walk or drive and even falling branches from the weight. Power outages are common in an ice storm. 

Sleet occurs when snow partially melts when falling through a layer of warm air. This slush refreezes as they then fall through a layer of freezing air and then eventually hit the ground as frozen raindrops. This differs from freezing rain which happens when snow falls through a warmer layer of air and completely melt. They do not have time to refreeze before hitting the ground. 

Winter storm damage can come in many forms. The weight of a heavy snowstorm can cause roof damage and even roof collapse, leaving your home subject to water damage. Backed up gutters can produce icy conditions that melt and bring serious water damage.  It is also common for heavy winds and falling branches to knock out power lines, not only exposing you and your family to freezing temperatures but also putting your home at risk for burst pipes that can cause costly water damage and even structural damage to your home. 

Damage Buddy TipSchedule an annual assessment of your home in early fall to be sure that you are winter-ready. Make sure your windows and doors are all wind tight. Install storm windows early for unexpected storms, check for loose roof tiles, trim loose branches, and clean out your gutters.

If you live in an area that is prone to extreme winter weather, blizzards, and ice storms, it is important that you plan for these conditions before the winter season, and stay vigilant through the storm season to be sure you are prepared. This will help you avoid what could be catastrophic damage to your home and property and potential harm to your family. Follow out tips below for what to do before, during, and after a winter storm. As always, safety first.

blizzard damage

What kind of damage can blizzard cause?

Winter storms and blizzards, cold temperatures, sleet, and freezing rain can cause very costly damage to your property. Heavy snow on your roof, depending on the pitch can cause pressure that leads to water damage as the ice melts, and can even cause structural roof damage, potentially leaving your home exposed to water damage from snow and rain.  If water gets trapped between your roof and slayer of ice, it can cause an ice dam at the edge of the roof that can also cause leaks, water damage and mold, and even structural damage.

Cold temperatures can cause pipes to freeze and burst to cause significant damage as the water melts. Spring thaws commonly cause roof leaks and flooded basements. It is important that you take steps in advance to insulate and protect your home from these hazards as much as possible in advance. And if you experience any of this type of damage, time is of the essence. Call water damage professionals for mitigation and restoration as quickly as possible.

How to stay safe during a winter storm.

Winter storms and blizzards bring freezing and often icy conditions. Stay indoors and stay warm. Do not use your stove as a heat source, or vent any heaters inside. Be sure to have plenty of blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter clothes and very cautious with electric space heaters and be sure they are legal and have an automatic shut-off switch and follow all directions that come with them. Be sure you are fully trained on your generator and how to use it properly. DO NOT use any camp stoves, charcoal grills, or similar inside your home.

Conserve heat by avoiding opening doors, close off unneeded rooms, close off cracks under doors with towels and close the draperies at night. If you must go outside, beware icy conditions under the snow and dress in layers.

blizzard damage

What to do after a winter storm.

As soon as it is safe, inspect for potential damage to your home. Document any damage to the best of your ability with photos if possible. If you suspect any issues, call a water restoration specialist immediately. They can help assess the damage, remove the snow load on your roof, break down ice dams, inspect for electrical damage, and take other steps to avoid additional water damage and mold. They have the proper training, and the drying and dehumidifying equipment you will need to act quickly and can assist in getting your restoration project on track. Report any damage to your insurance company immediately.

Does my homeowners insurance cover winter storm damage?

Every insurance policy is different and your coverage will depend upon your policy as well as the circumstances.  For example, if your pipes freeze and burst and cause water damage, you would be covered as long as you haven’t left your home unoccupied for a long period of time. It would normally cover the broken pipe, the water damage to your home, and the water damage to your furnishings. If you have water leaks through your roof (as long as you have maintained it) the water damage to your home and furnishing should be covered. Roof cave in due to the weight of snow should be covered as should damage to ceilings and walls from clogged gutters.

Likewise, damage from a fallen tree on your property will likely be covered.  As always, you should consult with your insurance carrier as soon as possible to get an understanding of your coverage and any deductible, limits, or exclusions. Most storms are considered to be acts of God which means your insurer can’t single you out and increase your rate. Remember all claims must be made in a timely manner so file your claim as quickly as you can. Document the damage, call your insurance company, and contact a storm damage restoration contractor.

Should I hire a property damage attorney?

If you are not satisfied with your insurance companies’ payout a property damage attorney can be helpful. But remember, they do take a portion of the claim themselves so be sure you understand the terms and that you really need this assistance. There are many good attorneys to assist you, but start with your insurance company and be sure you understand your policy and coverage.