COCHRANE— High winds swept through the province on Tuesday (Jan. 12) topping speeds of 120 km/h in several municipalities and tipping at least one transport truck on a Highway outside of Granum, Alta. according to The Weather Network.
In Cochrane and the surrounding area, dozens of houses were impacted, said owner-operator of Rippy’s Roofing, Mathew Seewalt.
“We’re sitting at about 50 or 60 houses just from that last one,” he said of the Jan. 12 windstorm.
While the lower part of Cochrane that sits nestled in the shelter of Big Hill has seen less damage, the surrounding neighbourhoods outside of the valley like Heritage, Sunset, Gleneagles and Riversong tend to see more wind-related damage.
“Those areas that are just on the outskirts of the valley, those are the ones that get nailed by the wind,” Seewalt said.
In his company’s 11 years of operating wind is the most common cause of damage to roofs in town.
“That would be the majority of the calls for repair, 90 per cent of it is because of the wind,” he said.
The recent spell of heavy winds has certainly led to a busy January for him and his crew.
“It’s most definitely kept our business very busy, we’re definitely hopping,” he said. “Especially now that we’re a 24-hour repair service company as well.”
Roughly six or seven years ago, Seewalt said, Rippy’s Roofing decided to focus heavily on repairs, which is typically a cheaper option than a full re-roofing.
Since then, he has had several consistently busy years in terms of repairs.
“It’s been busy every year. It seems this time of the year within a month or so, or weeks or whatever, there’s just continuous wind,” he said. “Cochrane has always been windy, and that’s probably part and parcel due to me focusing on it more.
“The weather system here is so brutal. You can have all elements in one day in this part of the world, rain, sunshine, wind, snow, all in one day.”
Seewalt said there are several things you can do to protect your home.
Those who live in very windy areas can have a roof “tabbed,” the process of sealing a roof. It’s a common technique Seewalt uses to fix patches of roofs that have been lifted away by high winds.
In those wind tunnel neighbourhoods, Seewalt said, it is worth considering the cost of wind-proofing the section of your roof that takes the brunt of the weather.
He also noted that several companies make versions of wind-proof shingles, which use special nailing strips that securely fix shingles to roofs.
Those shingles will typically add a few hundred dollars onto the cost of a re-roofing, but could save you money in the long run.
Seewalt said he has also seen houses damaged by blowing objects.
“I’ve seen some dandies. It is a small percentage, to be fair,” he said.
He estimated roughly five to 10 percent of the damage he has seen is caused by loose or insecure objects.
He recalled an instance in the neighbourhood of Monterra, where he was contacted by Cochrane Fire Services for help getting a trampoline dislodged from a resident’s roof.
A rainstorm was bearing down on Cochrane, he said, and the roof was too steep for fire service members to access it, so Seewalt and his team showed up to help.
He has also seen shingles get dislodged and damaged siding due to high winds, lids from barbecues get torn off and blown away, garbage and recycling bins roll down back alleys and yard furniture and umbrellas get swept up in heavy gusts.
Securing those sorts of items properly can go a long way in protecting your property.
“If you know there’s a wind warning or you feel the wind coming up, keep your umbrellas closed, your trampoline secured to the ground properly, things like that. If you’ve got loose railings, make sure you secure that stuff because it will go blowing off some way somehow.”
If you have a damaged roof, Seewalt said to call a repair company quickly. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that further damage could occur, or moisture could make its way into the damaged area, exacerbating the costs of repairs significantly.