Can a Roof Get Damaged By a Tornado, Even if it’s a Few Blocks Away?

There’s a myth about tornadoes that they can destroy one home and leave the home next door absolutely free of damage. In reality, this rarely, if ever, happens. The winds that produce the devastation are simply too powerful to be so precise. This myth has been discussed at length at 10 Dangerous Tornado Myths.

If your home is within a mile or more of the path of a tornado, your roof may be damaged by the tornado itself or by the strong winds that typically accompany them. While tornadoes range from 10 yards wide to over a mile wide, the path of damage they leave behind is usually much wider. To understand a tornadoes destruction you should first understand its formation. Read what National Geographic says about the creation of tornadoes.

How Roof Damage Occurs During a Tornado

Your roof can be damaged in a number of ways when a tornado passes nearby. First, the winds of the tornado, and the vacuum caused by those winds, cause serious updrafts that can literally suck the roofing material off your home – or the sheathing beneath the roofing material. That’s one reason all homes today are built with hurricane/tornado straps that secure the trusses to the lower framing of the home.

Secondly, roofs are damaged by the debris tornadoes produce. Wind speeds within a tornado often exceed 200 MPH, and in the most violent storms wind speeds over 300 MPH have been recorded. When a tornado slams into a wooded area, large tree limbs and sometimes entire trees are sent flying in all directions. Those projectiles, and others like them, are a major source of damage to roofing materials when they come crashing into the home.

Also hail often accompanies tornadoes and other large storms. Hail damage can be hard to detect but can cause serious problems to the structure of your home.

Inspecting your Home for Tornado Damage

So you see, your home does not need to take a direct hit from a tornado to experience damage to the roof. If there are tornado sightings anywhere near your home and strong winds are present around your house, your roof is vulnerable to damage.

After the storms have past and there is no danger of immediate recurrence, go outside to inspect your roof carefully. Stand far enough away from it that you can see all the way to the peak. A pair of binoculars is an excellent tool for inspecting a roof from the ground.

Look for missing shingles, shakes or tiles. If you have a chimney, inspect it for damage too. Look carefully at the place where the chimney extends through the roof. This is a common location for damage. Check for a gap in the roof or for missing flashing. Either one will produce serious water damage during the next heavy rain.

It is vital that you find damage right away for 2 reasons. First, damage leaves the roof vulnerable to secondary damage from rain storms, and a leaking roof can produce damage that is many times worse than the original problem. Secondly, some insurance companies will deny claims on secondary damage when the original damage was overlooked by the homeowner.

When to Call a Professional Roofer

If you see any damage on your roof that you are unable to fix yourself, it will save you lots of money and a huge amount of hassle in the end to call a roofing contractor. If homes around you have been damaged, and you are unable to inspect your own roof thoroughly, a professional roofer will do the inspection for a small fee – sometimes waving the fee if they are hired to fix damage.


Tornado damage to homes is always more widespread than the direct path of the storm. If your area has experienced a tornado or any high wind event, it makes sense to fully inspect your roof for damage or hire a roofing contractor to do it for you. Many times the damage may be hard to identify so using a professional make sense however take your time talk to neighbors, ask your local hardware folks, check with the better business bureau in your area before you hire anyone to work on your roof.


Outside Reading:

Noaa .Gov-online tornado information and facts


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