According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), mobile homes may have some problems in hurricane winds. It all depends on wind strength, though, with NOAA observing that "hurricane-force winds can easily destroy poorly constructed ... mobile homes." Precautions can be taken to at least tie down and secure mobile homes in excessive winds, though. As well, if they're built according to federal standards, they stand a better chance of surviving destructive winds should they hit.
Sometimes referred to as a manufactured home, a mobile home has construction that is regulated under the United States Code. Construction of mobile homes is totally different from that of traditional "stick-built" houses. A steel frame upon which a floor is attached is the first element of construction. After that, walls of varying thickness are erected, and then the roof. Finishing work (wiring, carpeting etc.) occurs last. While sturdy to a point, a manufactured home isn't typically attached to a foundation.
Hurricane winds can wreak havoc on mobile homes. That's because there's no foundation, in the traditional sense, anchoring the homes to the ground. Instead, there are only mobile home wheels and a set of stabilizing cinder blocks underneath a mobile home's floor framing. Those are usually hidden behind a decorative skirt that hides it all away from view. Fortunately, it's possible to anchor a mobile home's frame to the ground.
At the time of publication, the law required that all new and used mobile homes have the ability to be strapped and anchored to the ground with tie-downs. While not as strong as traditional foundations, strapping a mobile home's metal strapping through the frame and then anchoring the straps into the ground can help. These straps and tie-downs work by fortifying and strengthening a mobile home's overall structure. That'll keep it, to a point, from excessively flexing and even flying away during a hurricane.
By their nature, mobile homes are less able than traditional homes to withstand the effects of hurricane winds, with Category One wind speeds beginning at 74 mph. The strongest hurricanes, with Category Five winds exceeding 154 mph, will quickly destroy most mobile homes, regardless. A mobile home's long, broad sides act as sails, catching the wind and then sometimes flexing greatly in response. This can quickly damage a mobile home unless it's properly stabilized and strengthened according to standard.
- NOAA.gov/Hurricane Preparedness: High Winds
- USCode.house.gov: Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards: 42 USC Chapter 70
- SunSentinel.com; Securely Anchor Your Mobile Home; Roger Roy
- Pinellas County, Florida: Hurricane Preparedness for Mobile Home Residents
- Miami Herald; Weather: Hurricanes: Securing Your Mobile Home Before the Storm; May 20, 2010
- CNN U.S.; The Hurricane Rating Scale Explained; July 6, 2007
- Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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