Ensuring Your Roof’s Resilience During Storm Season in Long Island, NY
As a coastal region prone to powerful Atlantic hurricanes, Long Island homeowners live under an ever-present threat during storm season. When heavy winds and rainfall bear down, often the first line of defense lies overhead—on one of the approximately 879,100 roofing systems blanketing Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Fortifying your roof against high-velocity winds and extreme weather events provides critical protection for your home’s structure and everything inside it. According to the Insurance Information Institute, wind damage currently accounts for over 50% of catastrophic losses paid out by insurance companies in the US.
While no roof can claim to be truly hurricane-proof, Long Islanders can take important steps to maximize their roof’s resilience in the face of severe storms. Read on to learn key factors in developing hurricane-ready roofing.
The Risks Hurricanes Pose to Long Island Roofing
Positioned in Hurricane Alley with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and east, Long Island directly confronts hurricanes and tropical storms heading north along the Eastern Seaboard.
On average, about six hurricanes form in the Atlantic every year according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the peak season running from early August through late October. Powerful cyclones often trace a course to the northeast, positioning the New York metropolitan region and Long Island squarely in their crosshairs.
Since 1850, an estimated 58 tropical cyclones have passed within 125 nautical miles of Long Island according to a Hurricane Research Division analysis. More than 20% were major hurricanes (Category 3 or above), with sustained winds over 111 mph.
Throughout its history, Long Island has endured several direct hits and damaging near-misses from Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms. The so-called Long Island Express hurricane of 1938 stands as perhaps the most devastating, making landfall on Long Island as a Category 3 storm with wind gusts estimated at 125 to 150 mph. Over 500 people died during this storm.
More recently in 1985, Hurricane Gloria came ashore on Long Island as a Category 2 storm, causing extensive roof damage across the region even as it had weakened during its approach.
When powerful cyclonic winds converge over neighborhoods across Nassau and Suffolk Counties, roof coverings stand most prone to failure. Hurricane ties often anchor roof framing to resist updraft lift forces, but steep wind pressure gradients can still infiltrate small breaches and lift entire roof sections.
Additionally, wind-driven projectiles like tree branches can puncture through roof coverings during a storm’s fury. Driving rain can then infiltrate these ruptures across the roof’s waterproof membrane. Without rapid repairs, significant water damage often progresses in a storm’s aftermath.
Key Factors for Hurricane-Resistant Roofing
While roof framing and coverings face immense stresses during cyclonic events, studies by international agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) help establish important criteria for improving hurricane resilience:
- Wind Uplift Resistance
A roof’s ability to withstand upward wind pressure provides critical protection during a storm. Assessing roof uplift capacity requires determining the right mix of:
- Roof Slope: More steeply pitched roofs allow winds to glance off the surface, subjecting coverings to less lifting force. Roof slopes of at least 6:12 pitch perform better than lower angles.
- Sheathing Attachment: Sturdy roof sheathing fasteners (often screws or nails) anchor the roof layers together. Proper fastener clinching keeps the roof covering bonded to the rafters.
- Rafter Bracing: Supplemental rafter bracing (such as hurricane ties or clips) supplies additional uplift resistance and structural continuity.
According to FEMA, installing rafter braces/hurricane ties qualifies as the most cost-effective enhancement for resisting wind damage.
- Impact Protection
Even gale-force winds can launch small debris at high speeds, where it essentially becomes shrapnel piercing through roof coverings. Advanced impact-resistant coverings help prevent puncture damage during extreme weather events.
- Waterproofing Reinforcement
Defending against water intrusion both during and after a storm remains paramount for homeowners. Enhanced roof underlayment materials (such as self-adhering ice and water barriers) supply critical leakage protection at roof joints and valleys.
Likewise, reinforced covering membranes and proper sloping/drainage prevent pooling water from infiltrating the home interior.
- Fire Safety
Many codes require fire-resistant roof materials that meet strict standards for flammability testing. This prevents wind-blown embers and sparks from easily igniting the roof surface during storms.
- Proper Installation
Even high-performance roofing materials underperform if not properly installed according to manufacturer specifications. Always use experienced roofing contractors to ensure correct material usage and workmanship.
Leading Roof Types for Hurricane Resilience
With these storm-ready criteria in place, how do common Long Island roof types compare when confronting hurricane conditions?
- Asphalt Shingles
As the most widely used roofing product nationally (protecting over 80 million homes), asphalt shingle construction continues improving to expand hurricane resistance:
- Multi-layer shingle mats with reinforced backer strips provide durable impact protection
- Quality underlayments and self-sealing adhesive strips better prevent water intrusion after storms
- Sturdy fiberglass support mats withstand sustained high winds better than paper or wood fibers
According to Statista, asphalt shingles comprised over 75% of roofing product shipments in the US as of 2021. While still potentially vulnerable to blow-offs and cracking, modern impact-resistant asphalt shingles using fiberglass mats and high-traction granules check off all the boxes for reasonably priced hurricane protection.
- Metal Roofing
As a lightweight but durable roof covering resistant to all weather conditions, properly installed metal roofs offer prime protection against hurricane-lifting forces and flying debris. Galvanized steel and aluminum panels (as well as copper or zinc shingles) all perform well, as Metal Architecture Magazine highlights:
- Hurricane ties anchor metal roofing to resist extreme wind uplift
- Minimal seams and waterproof underlayment reduce the chances of leakage
- Various metal thicknesses and protective coatings prevent corrosion and puncture damage
High material quality comes at a cost—metal roofing runs 2-3 times more than asphalt shingles nationally according to HomeAdvisor. But metal roofing lasts substantially longer as well, meaning a better return on investment in the long run.
- Clay and Concrete Tile
Used widely across Florida and Coastal southeast states, these heavy roofing types stand up well to Atlantic hurricanes despite increased weight load. According to Clay Roof Tile Council testing, correctly installed tile roofs can withstand:
- Category 5 wind speeds (157+ mph)
- Direct impact from wind-borne debris at 140 mph
- Nonstop exposure to rain, salt, and humidity
While susceptible to crack damage from fallen trees or blew-off sections, these durable materials provide enhanced protection overall in seaside hurricane zones. The weight does warrant reinforced roof decking during installation.
Seek Professional Guidance to Fortify Your Roof
While certain steep-slope roofing materials demonstrate better resilience in coastal storm conditions, professional roofing contractors prove essential partners for shielding your home.
They bring deep expertise in:
- Proper product selection, accounting for roof type, pitch, shape, and framing
- Technical installation specifications, including supplementing rafter ties, braces, and anchors
- Ongoing inspection, maintenance, and repair after storms roll through
Don’t leave your home and family at risk this coming hurricane season. Consult reputable Long Island roofing companies for an assessment and learn your options for storm-ready roof upgrades suited to your home. With wise preparation today, you can rest easier knowing your roof provides critical durability when storms descend upon Long Island’s shores down the road.