Are Mobile Homes Safe in Storms? Let’s Be Honest.
The answer is YES and no. Probably not what you wanted to hear, but let’s talk about why. (Spoiler: It has more to do with WHEN the home was built than what type of home it is.)
To state the obvious, weather happens. Pleasant weather, bad weather, unexpected weather, and sometimes even damaging weather. It’s something we can’t avoid altogether, but we can, in most cases, be prepared for it.
Now one thing we’d like to straighten out, are the stereotypes behind a mobile home being considered an unsafe structure during a storm. In fact, homes built to the HUD standard are generally safe, but you want something built in 1994 or later to the proper wind zone if you are in a high wind area. We will dive deeper into that conversation within this blog.
Ultimately, we want to both reiterate the safety and affordability of these homes, as well as acknowledge the fact that mother nature has the potential to affect anything in her way, whether it’s a manufactured home, stick built, or something else. However, with proper installation, a safety plan, and the right precautions, you’ll be one step ahead.
The Impact of a Hurricane
1992 opened the eyes of many, when devastation was all that was left behind by the powerful Hurricane Andrew.
This Category 5 storm caused entire neighborhoods of various houses including mobile homes to scatter, leaving them destroyed.
It was a realization that all manufactured homes were built to the exact same HUD standards across the board regardless of if they were going to be placed on the hurricane prone coastline of Florida or in a landlocked state like Nebraska. So, whether your home was residing in the wake of a hurricane or within the path of tornado alley, the houses were constructed under the same standards.
Yes, you read that correctly – the same standards.
Looking back, that seems so wild to think about now, right?
Well fortunately just two years later, new standards had been established!
This was great news to many, and Wind Zones were the talk of the town, as new regulations for manufactured homes were announced. The country itself would now be divided categorically into these zones and homes were to be built according to the average wind speeds within the area in which it was placed.
You may be wondering, what exactly are Wind Zones, and how are they categorized?
Well, we are here to keep you informed!
A Wind Zone is the rating of the amount of wind pressure a manufactured home is built to withstand.
Whether the storm involves a hurricane or a tornado, the common factor between the two is… you guessed it – the wind. With that being said, it’s important that we know how much wind each zone can hold up against.
Wind Zone I – withstand 70 mile per hour sustained winds (typically centralized areas)
Wind Zone II – withstand 100 mile per hour sustained winds (typically inland and further out from the coastline)
Wind Zone III – withstand 110 mile per hour sustained winds (along the coastline)
Each mobile home must be designed and constructed to conform to one of the three wind zones. Homes designed and constructed to a higher wind zone can be installed in a lower wind zone, but it’s important to note that a lower wind zone cannot be installed in a higher wind zone. But as a reference, a properly installed Wind Zone I manufactured home weathers the storms in San Antonio just fine.
A Twisted Myth
We’re sure it’s been heard before, “mobile homes are tornado magnets,” but even though that’s just a myth, let’s provide some context behind this belief. Typically, mobile homes and communities that accept mobile homes are located on cleared flat land. These areas make the installation of mobile homes smoother, and work well to expand mobile home communities.
Now unfortunately, flat open areas are typically where tornadoes like to touch down, often referred to as transition zones. We know what you’re thinking, that sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well, the good news here is, it’s not the home that’s the magnet technically, it’s the land in which the home is placed.
Does this mean that every flat area is tornado prone?
No, absolutely not!
There is flat land in the hill country, in fact, here in San Antonio and surrounding areas, we almost never get tornadoes. So, if you’re concerned about the location of your future mobile home being considered a “tornado magnet”, just be sure to do some initial research on the area where your land is located. If you are really concerned about tornados in your area, you can also consider a higher wind zone home than your area requires and/or getting a full basement where appropriate, which is true of any home, manufactured or stick built.
Finding Your Wind Zone
So how do you find your wind zone?
Let’s walk through it together!
Determining your wind zone before your home is constructed is a particularly important step, as it is quite difficult to upgrade to the standards of a higher zone after the fact. So, let’s make sure you have this information before that process begins! And if you already own the home, we can remind you where to check for this information.
During the home buying process, the easiest and most effective way to determine which wind zone your home will placed in, is to simply ask one of our Sales Specialists. They can easily verify the area in which you plan to place the home. Our Sales Specialists are happy to help in any way possible and will not hesitate to verify this information if you are unsure of exactly where your land falls within the three zones.
If you’re already living in a mobile home and are curious as to what zone your home was built for, then you can simply check the “Data Plate.” If you’re unsure what a data plate is exactly, it’s a paper label that contains other essential information including a map of the U.S. and information about the wind zone, snow load and roof load of the home.
The data plate is great to have on hand so that you know what standards your home was built to, and the extent of what your home can handle.
A Weatherproof Plan
We know we can’t avoid harsh weather altogether, but what we can do is develop a plan to prepare ahead of time. Early preventative action is the best way to stay safe in the event of severe weather. No matter a hurricane or a tornado, a plan of action is key to being one step ahead of any storm.
Some suggestions to kick start your weatherproof plan:
- Know your wind zone & typical weather patterns.
- Wind Zone 1, 2, or 3
- Weather Patterns: Hot, Cold, Dry, Wet
2. Make your home as permanent/secure as possible.
- Proper home installation
- Framed foundation if possible
- Secure outside furniture that is unable to be placed inside
- Board windows if needed
3. Declare which room in the home can be appointed as the safety bunker.
- Find a tight space
- No windows/glass
- Basement preferred, but a small room, or hallway will suffice if there is no basement available
4. Have an emergency evacuation plan.
- Have a second shelter option to evacuate to, if possible
- Research the area’s evacuation plans & regulations
5. Stay Informed.
- Keep up with the local weather reports
- Have a battery powered radio available in case of emergency
Our second suggestion within the list mentions “proper home installation,” but we want to clarify that by saying this, this process should be completed in the initial install of your home. Sure, there are things you can do to secure your home after moving day, but we just wanted to be clear that the installation should be properly done from the start.
Let’s chat about it!
Just like any house, laying a proper foundation and secure installation can make a huge difference in both the stability and longevity of your mobile home. The same precautions should be taken as additional structures are added after installation. Making sure to hire a reputable company to install or add to your home will ensure the quality of the work done.
For example, it was one of the more recent hurricanes that showed mobile homes did great except when homeowners improperly added porches, decks, and additional exterior features to the home. This increased the risk of damage to not only their home and property, but also to the surrounding homes as debris can be thrown around in the winds. We want to remind you to avoid cutting corners when it comes to the safety of your family and the longevity of your home by going with a reputable company who knows how to add structures that are anchored correctly, helping to withstand a storm.
Safety is a concern no matter what type of home you live in. Take this into consideration, manufactured houses must travel 70-80 mph down the road and that’s as fast as a small tornado. That’s even before the home ties down to Federal HUD regulations.
Truth be told, any home—site-built or manufactured—will experience damage with 100-mph winds, especially if a home takes a direct hit. But, with the right precautions taken by homeowners and community managers, manufactured homes are safer and more secure than ever before…including in bad storms.