Spring Weather In North Texas And what Home Owners And Buyers Need To Know!
Trees are turning green and the grass is getting taller. Winter is gone as the gradual warming of spring arrives. Moisture travels up from the Gulf of Mexico and from the northwest a strong Pacific cold front or low-pressure system guided by the Rocky Mountains comes rolling in creating a bubbly froth in the heavens and unleashing hell on us below. This is when north Texans experiences the most severe weather of the year. From floods to hail and tornados, we have it all. What is a homeowner or homebuyer to do?
Floods claim the most lives in north Texas and can be disastrous for homeowners. There are two types of flooding in our portion of the state, rapid-onset floods and flash floods. Rapid-onset floods occur on rivers, ponds, and lakes while flash floods occur in low elevation areas. Heavy rains create both conditions, the slow steady rains that last for several days drain into rivers, ponds and lakes swelling the water above the banks because the outflow cannot keep up with the inflow while fast-moving heavy rains can overwhelm our dry clay soils creating massive run offs (flash flooding). When you are searching for a home be aware of its position to rivers, lakes and ponds. If you are in doubt about its locale, call the city engineering department. Most municipals keep topographic maps and can tell you if the house or property is located on a flood plain. If it is and you are willing to take the risk, purchase flood insurance, it is not cheap but it can save you a bundle in the future. The most common flooding problem in north Texas is from flash floods, pay attention to the grading of the yard, is one side of the yard a higher elevation than the other? Do you notice the signs of water run-off paths? Bare dirt with current patterns is a good sign as well as water line marks on a wood fence. Is the home sitting within the path of water run-off? Does the landscape carry the storm water across a swimming pool? A home inspector can find areas that may cause problems. Minor flash flooding (runoff) may not take a life but can cause homeowner problems and can become expensive. If water enters your home, it can ruin carpeting and furniture. In pools, run-off dirties the water and causes havoc with the filtration system. Sometimes re-grading the soil around your home or pool to divert the run-off will solve the problem. Sometimes a system using French drains may be required to move water away from low areas. If the buyer is aware of the problem before making an offer then they can include the fix in the offer. If the inspector discovers the run-off problem then you can negotiate and complete the work during the option period. Always do a visual inspection of the yard before purchasing. It pays to know where the flow of water occurs in your yard.
Did you know Tarrant County is the hail capital of Texas per the Texas Insurance Council? Since 1955, Tarrant County spotters reported 800 hail events. Hail is formed when rain droplets freeze and are carried upward by a cyclonic wind (imagine a tornado on its side) accumulating water and then lifted up again to freeze and returning below repeating the process and building layers of ice until the frozen ball becomes too heavy for the wind to lift and plunges to the earth below. Hail can be as small as pin heads or as large as bowling balls (8.25 inches in diameter). Hail, over .75 inches is large enough to damage objects. If you drive around this area, it is common to spot vehicles resembling golf balls. 1.6 billion dollars in property damage occurred during the Mayfest hailstorm alone, hail is a big deal in north Texas and the number of roofing companies in the area proves it. Hail creates dimples and tears on asphalt roof tiles sometimes allowing water to penetrate the outer covering. Hail can create unsightly dents on metal roofs. Unfortunately, the only thing a homeowner can do to protect his home is to purchase homeowner insurance with hail coverage. Buyers should have the home inspected during the option period. The inspector will crawl on the roof and look for signs of hail damage. Most likely, a roof in this area will experience some hail damage. If the damage is minor then replacement may not be necessary. However if the damage is extensive, negotiations with the seller is needed. Good news for the seller is if he has insurance then all the seller will need to pay is the deductible. Replacing a roof is a common experience in north Texas. I replaced the roof of my house twice already because of hail, be prepared.
Tornados are perhaps the most frightening weather phenomenon in north Texas. A vortex drops from the boiling clouds above sometimes like a snake other times like a giant funnel. The violent winds can rake across fields, homes and cities and can occur anywhere in the north Texas area. Tornados range from a F1 (73-112 MPH) to F5 with speeds up to 318 MPH and strike anytime during the year however springtime is the season we see the most. F1 twisters will rip tiles from roofs while F5’s can strip a house to its foundation and tear asphalt from roads. F5’s are true monsters. Homeowners have few choices to deal with twisters such as building reinforced safe closets or in ground storm shelters. Those options are expensive yet offer the most protection. A safe closet may not protect you from a F5 yet will protect you from less severe tornados. Storm shelters will most likely protect you from all categories but are far more expensive especially in this area with our abundance of clay soils. For most of us, the only option is to find a safe location in the center of your home, away from windows and flying glass. The best place is in a bathroom lying low in the bathtub. Pipes in the walls offer extra protection and the tub can protect you from flying debris. Pay attention to weather reports. A tornado watch means the conditions are right for the formation of a tornado. If the area is under a tornado watch, keep your radio or TV turned on for weather reports to monitor the situation. A tornado warning indicates an actual tornado spotted on radar or on the ground. If approaching, seek cover immediately, most towns have sirens to warn of eminent twisters. Purchase a weather radio. They can had for as little as thirty dollars and provide an alarm system to alert you if a tornado approaches. A weather radio is particularly helpful during overnight storms when your family is asleep. There were many nights spent in the middle bathroom and the radio on in our household. This is life in north Texas. We are fortunate not to experience major earthquakes, tsunamis, or hurricanes yet we do get tornados. Do not panic just stay safe. See ya down the road.