Can Manufactured Homes Withstand Hurricane Winds?

Can Prefabricated Homes Withstand Hurricane Winds?

Learn how HUD code was updated to keep manufactured homes safer during storms.

When it comes to buying a manufactured home, many home buyers are concerned about the safety of manufactured homes in storms. This is a concern many home buyers have; however, modern codes and improved building methods mean these homes can withstand harsher weather patterns just like other homes.

Through the years, the effects of hurricanes on manufactured housing have led to changes in federal manufactured home building requirements to increase the safety of manufactured homes across the country. In this article, you can learn about:

  • What was done to increase manfactured home wind safety
  • Manufactured home wind zones
  • Combatting the manufactured home wind safety myth
  • How many homes are built to Wind Zone II and Wind Zone III standards
  • Manufactured homes in hurricanes throughout the years
  • How to prepare a manufactured home for a hurricane

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What was done to increase manufactured home wind safety?

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed 90% of mobile homes in South Dade County, Florida.¹ It devastated homeowners, leaving nearly 250,000 people homeless in Dade County and caused nearly $25 billion in damage in the U.S.

After damage from Hurricane Andrew, a category 4 hurricane, the U.S. federal government updated wind safety standards for manufactured housing. The updates that occurred in 1994 have resulted in increased manufactured home safety in hurricanes. The updates established three HUD wind zones for manufactured homes based on where the home will be located. With the establishment of the wind zones came revised building requirements specific to those wind zones. Changes for homes placed in Zones II and III included building requirement updates such as revised foundation specifications and wall framing that allows for the installation of hurricane shutters.

These wind safety updates are important to the overall safety of manufactured homes in all storms, including hurricanes.

Manufactured Home Wind Zones

Map of United States wind zones. Manufactured Housing Institute - Basic Wind Zone Map

There are currently 3 wind zones that manufactured homes are built to in accordance with based on where the home will be placed and are based on the expected wind speeds for the area. The lower the number of the wind zone, the lower the expected wind speeds.

The map above shows that wind zones are often Wind Zone II or Wind Zone III around coastal areas. This is because of the likelihood of higher wind speeds during coastal weather incidents, such as a hurricane, so homes in these areas must be built to stronger wind zone requirements.

If you are a manufactured homeowner and want to know what wind zone your home is built for, there should be an information sheet called the data plate placed on the inside of your home that will have the wind zone information for your home. Your home will have a data plate so long as it was built after 1976.

Check out this video of manufactured homes that survived Hurricane Irma in 2017 from the Florida Manufactured Housing Association!

Mobile Home Wind Safety and How To Find Your Home's Wind Zone

Video

How many homes are built to Wind Zone II or Wind Zone III standards?

As of July 2014, according to the Manufactured Housing Institute, 13% of manufactured homes are located in Wind Zone II and only 3% of manufactured homes are located in Wind Zone III.² Together, the two Wind Zones account for around 8.5 million homes. Most of these homes are located in Gulf Coast states with the highest amount located in Florida.²

Mobile Homes in Hurricanes Through Recent Years

Manufactured Homes in Hurricanes Through Recent Years

A key factor affecting whether a manufactured home can survive a hurricane is the ability of the home to withstand high wind. Check out how manufactured homes have fared since improved wind building standards were implemented.

Hurricane Charley

In 2004, Hurricane Charley was the first of four major hurricanes to strike Florida in a six-week period. When it made landfall, Hurricane Charley had sustained winds of nearly 145 miles per hour.⁸

Research from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit organization, found that manufactured homes performed surprisingly well in the storm, and 80% of the damage homes sustained came from adjacent structures, not from failures in the home construction itself.³

Notably, an assessment of 152 manufactured home communities in Florida after all the major hurricanes of 2004 (Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne) showed that no homes built after 1994 were seriously damaged.⁴

Hurricane Katrina

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck shore in South Florida with sustained winds of 75 miles per hour and gusts of nearly 115 miles per hour. Even with many of the homes evaluated being built in a variety of decades, manufactured homes were reported to have sustained minimal damages.⁵ It was also reported that no significant damage was seen on any manufactured home built after 1994.⁵

Hurricane Ike

In 2008, Hurricane Ike struck shore near Galveston Bay, TX, with sustained winds near 110 miles per hour. It was reported that manufactured homes near Galveston Bay withstood this hurricane relatively well.⁶ The homes mostly experienced damage to roof coverings, carports and additions, which are known to be weaker structures.⁶

Hurricane Irma

In 2017, Hurricane Irma struck shore on Cudjoe Key in South Florida with sustained winds near 130 miles per hour. Fortunately, by the time Hurricane Irma hit Naples, FL, it had downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane. Between lower wind speeds and more stringent building standards for manufactured homes, many manufactured homes in the Naples area reportedly suffered minimal damage.⁷

According to one news publication, carports suffered the most damage and some homeowners returned to their homes to find a few strips of siding or patches of shingles missing.⁵ However, many manufactured homes seemed to fare well in the storm with minor damage varying from home to home and street to street.

###How to Prepare Your Home for a Hurricane

Regardless of the hurricane approaching, if a hurricane is due to strike your area, it's important to prepare your manufactured home for high levels of wind. This includes:⁸

  • Boarding up your windows
  • Installing hurricane shutters
  • Making sure all your hurricane tie-downs are secure
  • Placing sandbags under doors
  • Removing loose items and furniture from patios and porches

Checking your home foundation and having an inspector verify that all your tie-downs are secure will be the most important factor in preparing your mobile home for hurricane strength winds. Always make sure that you know how your local authorities will provide instruction in case of a hurricane and follow the instructions they provide.

Newer manufactured homes are often tied down with frame anchors as a part of the foundational system. Some older manufactured homes, especially single-section manufactured homes, may require over-the-top tie-downs to ensure safety in hurricane level winds.

You can rest assured that a new manufactured home is a strong and durable home option. Not only are manufactured homes built with strength and durability, they are affordable and make beautiful homes that will last for years to come.

  1. Paquette, Danielle. “Florida has 828,000 mobile homes. Less than a third were built to survive a hurricane.” The Washington Post. September 12, 2017. Accessed February 13, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/09/12/florida-has-828000-mobile-homes-only-half-are-insured/?utm_term=.1b008f196af1
  2.  “Wind Zones for Manufactured Housing.” PDF. Manufactured Housing Institute. July 2014. Accessed February 15, 2018. https://disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/MHI-HUD-Design-Wind-Zones.pdf 
  3. Friedman, Nicole and Laura Kusisto. “After Irma, Many Mobile Homeowners May Face Tough Choice.” The Wall Street Journal. September 12, 2017. Accessed February 15, 2018. https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-irma-many-mobile-homeowners-may-face-tough-choice-1505255692
  4. “Mobile/Manufactured Home Damage Assessment From Hurricane Katrina 2005.” PDF. The State of Florida. August 25, 2005. Accessed February 14, 2018.  http://www.flhsmv.gov/html/reports_and_statistics/mhd_reports/Hurricane%20Katrina%20Report.pdf
  5. Marshall, Tim. “On the Performance of Buildings in Hurricanes a Study for the Saffir-Simpson Scale Committee.” PDF. HAAG Engineering Co. October 18, 2009. Accessed February 13, 2018. https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/SSHWS-Marshall.pdf
  6. Fountain, Henry and Joseph B. Treaster. “Considered Vulnerable, Mobile Homes Are Battered but Largely Intact.” The New York Times. September 14, 2017. Accessed February 13, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/us/mobile-homes-florida-irma.html
  7.  "Hurricane Safety." American Red Cross. Accessed March 09, 2018. http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/hurricane#Before.
  8. Service Assessment Hurricane Charley, August 9-15, 2004. PDF. Silver Spring, Maryland: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, January 2006. https://www.weather.gov/media/publications/assessments/Charley06.pdf
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