High Winds Can Cause Significant Damage, Too

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Data pix.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT) - The storm system that moved through the Tennessee Valley early Wednesday morning brought high winds and a handful of tornado warnings.

It's important to understand how destructive high winds can be. 

Weather watchers said short wind bursts of 90 to 100 miles per hour were not out of the question for early Wednesday, and warned that not every home may be built to withstand that kind of force.

The Insurance Institute For Business And Home Safety (IBHS) recently commissioned a study that ranked Alabama in the bottom tier of states when it comes to building code safety. The IBHS also conducted an experiment in the company's weather facility that showed just how powerful straight-line gusts can be. Homes that fell short of certain safety standards could be seen being taken apart by the simulated winds.

"High winds, particularly gusty winds, can be very destructive," said Julie Rochman, CEO and President of IBHS. "It's basically like a pounding motion, so you'll get high winds pounding a structure...The one house with about $3,000 worth of upgrades stood strong, and the other one was actually just blown apart. It is scary and I think surprising to a lot of people how those little things can work in such a big way."

WHNT News 19 Chief Meteorologist Jason Simpson said homes that are up to acceptable safety standards can still be threatened by what lies around them.

"The soil is still wet from the rain we had in the first half of January," said Simpson. "Trees may come down with less wind than a situation where the ground was a little dryer, so that's a concern tonight...There is an outside chance, and we've seen this before in Alabama and Mississippi, where sometimes straight-line winds can get up in excess of 100 miles per hour."

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