Minimizing Wind Damage from Storms

By Ambar Espinoza | Courtesy of Rhode Island Public Radio

The Hurricane of 1938 toppled some 275 million trees across New England. Today – with more trees and more buildings – state officials see wind damage as a statewide threat because of climate change and the potential for more frequent, extreme weather events. In the next installment of our series Battle With the Sea, we look at how some homeowners are preparing to withstand winds with the force of a hurricane.

One early morning last August, many Rhode Islanders woke up to a fast-moving thunderstorm and heavy rain. It was the wind that startled South Kingstown resident Pam Rubinoff as she lay in bed.

“And then all of a sudden I heard this huge thump,” said Rubinoff, who hurried downstairs to find water pouring into her dining room from the attic. “And I went outside to see that there had been two huge trees that had fallen on the house.”

A tree specialist later told her the two oak trees together weighed about 7,000 pounds, more than enough to tear a whole in the roof.

The storm that took down these trees is what meteorologists call a microburst, defined by the wind damage it causes along a straight line. And damage it did with wind gusts ranging from 60 to more than 80 miles per hour. Cranston, Warwick and Charlestown were the hardest hit.

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Jeff Rhodin measures the distance between nails in Rubinoff's roof.

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