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Wire and rail wooden fence

We didn’t want to alarm readers by alerting them ahead of time, but April 12th was National Big Wind Day. This commemorates the highest speed natural wind ever recorded on our planet’s surface. Hold onto your hat—on April 12, 1934, the Mount Washington Observatory in Conway, New Hampshire recorded a 231 mph wind.

Weather buffs may think this is really cool. But at Buzz, National Big Wind Day elicits horror in our hearts. What did that 231 mph wind do to fences across New Hampshire? Let’s have a moment of silence, please.

Posts and hardware

It’s sad but true that fences can blow over in high winds. Few things are more depressing than a fence struck down before its time, lying flat on its back in some poor soul’s yard. And badly constructed fences? They’re goners when the wind picks up.

So how do you combat this force of God and/or weather?

First off, think deep fence posts. For example, if your fence is going to be six feet tall, stick those posts at least 30 inches into the ground. Make sure your posts are rot resistant so they hold up. And consider your hardware. Double-dipped galvanized nails are thickly coated with zinc, avoiding rust. Stainless steel nails work well with cedar fencing.

Ready for a new fence

Best fence types for wind

When the high winds hit, the last thing you want is for your fence to act as a giant sail. Instead, you’re better off with a design that lets the wind flow through the fence. Ideally, you’ll find the right spacing to balance air flow with privacy concerns. For example, a picket fence works if you leave an inch or two between pickets.

Shadowbox fences, also called board-on-board, have staggered rows of pickets on both sides of the fence rails. These deliver more privacy than an average picket fence, while still allowing some air flow.

If you choose a vinyl fence, incorporating internal reinforcements inside the posts helps your fence withstand bigger winds. And of course chain link lets the wind flow freely through, so this can be a good solution if privacy and beauty aren’t your utmost concerns.

Wind fences

There’s also such a thing as a wind fence, which is mostly for industrial rather than home use. A wind fence (also called a windbreak or wind shelter) can reduce winds by half over large areas, and by more than 80% over localized areas. These types of fences are used for erosion control, snow deflection, controlling turbulence and waves on ponds, protecting livestock and farmhouses and machinery. The smarties at the Purdue website hint at the research and calculations that go into optimal wind fences. “Wind velocity and fence height determine the size of the protected area. For instance, when the wind is blowing at 10 mph, a 6-foot-high porous fence will reduce that velocity to a minimum 10 feet downwind from the fence. When the wind is 20 mph, the minimum velocity point will be 65 feet from the fence; and at 30 mph, the area protected is about 90 feet downwind.”

Wind and your home or business

If your fence has ever been damaged or felled by wind, we feel your pain. At Buzz, we’re here to help you with all fence decisions. Give us a call today and we’ll help you devise the best fence for your property to stand up to wind.