Can Hurricane Winds Break Windows? – Understanding Weather Impact on Home Safety

Yes, hurricane winds can indeed break windows, especially if they’re not hurricane-resistant or properly protected.

Yes, hurricane winds can indeed break windows. The intense pressure and high-speed winds associated with hurricanes can easily shatter unprotected windows.

This can lead to dangerous flying debris and also allow the storm to enter the home, causing further damage.

However, there are several effective ways to protect your windows from hurricane winds, such as installing hurricane shutters, impact-resistant windows, or applying safety/security window films.

This article will delve into these options in detail, giving you all the information you need to safeguard your home against hurricane winds.

Key takeaways:

  • Hurricane winds can break windows, especially if unprotected.
  • Installing hurricane shutters, impact-resistant windows, or safety/security window films can protect windows.
  • Factors that affect window breakage include type of glass, window size, and presence of debris.
  • Old windows are more susceptible to wind damage due to their weak materials and deteriorated condition.
  • Impact windows are highly resistant to hurricane force winds and flying debris.

How Strong Does Wind Have to Be to Break Windows?

hurricane wind

Hurricane winds can reach speeds of over 155 mph. However, it doesn’t take hurricane-force winds to damage windows. The breaking point for glass varies depending on multiple factors:

  • Type of glass: Standard single-pane glass may shatter with wind speeds of around 50 mph, while dual-pane or tempered glass can withstand stronger winds. Wind speeds needed to break these are typically around 100 mph and above.
  • Window size: Larger windows are generally more susceptible to wind damage simply by virtue of their size. They present a larger target for wind and wind-borne debris.
  • Presence of debris: Most window breakage in storms isn’t actually caused by the wind itself, but by debris picked up by the wind. This means even comparatively moderate winds can pose a risk if they’re able to pick up and hurl projectiles.

To protect your windows from wind damage, consider fitting them with storm shutters or upgrading to impact-resistant glass. Adequate maintenance and regular checks for potential weaknesses also contribute to the durability of your windows against powerful winds.

What Risks Do High Winds Pose to Windows?

Crack Window Due to Hurricane Winds

High winds, such as those experienced in hurricanes, can seriously challenge the resilience of windows. The primary risks to windows during such events involve both wind pressure and flying debris.

High-powered winds place enormous pressure on windows. With sufficiently strong gusts, the stress could lead to a breakage, especially if the windows are old or in poor condition.

Another significant risk is flying debris. Hurricanes often uproot trees and lift lightweight objects that could strike windows with significant force. Even objects you’d normally consider harmless, like a small garden decoration, become potent projectiles in high wind conditions.

If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, install hurricane shutters or invest in impact-resistant windows, and replace your window immediately. This not only secures the windows themselves but also protects the overall structural integrity of your home since shattered windows can lead to further internal damage.

Old Windows and Hurricane Winds

small cracks window

Old windows often lack the structural integrity to withstand hurricane-force winds. The fragile nature of their materials – generally single-pane glass with weak framing – makes them particularly susceptible. This deterioration over time can lead to multiple issues.

  • Cracks forming on glass: The surface of older windows often develop minor flaws, reducing their resistance against stress from heavy winds. When these cracks widen and deepen, there’s a possibility of the glass shattering.
  • Weaker seals: Aging windows suffer from seals that are no longer as robust as they once were. Strong winds can exert enough pressure to breach these weakened seals, leading to potential water damage inside the home.
  • Fragile Frames: The frame is as important as the glass itself. Old frames may be corroded or brittle, leading to an increased chance of the entire window unit failing in the wake of high-velocity winds.

To mitigate these risks, homeowners could consider regular maintenance or replacement with hurricane-proof solutions. Regular inspections for cracks, seal quality, and frame condition are recommended. Furthermore, professional assessments may be beneficial to determine the best course of action for window safety.

Storm Damage From Debris

Accordion shutters Accordion Hurricane Protection

During a hurricane, flying debris becomes a catalyst for wind damage. Loose elements such as leaves, branches, and even patio furniture can get pushed by the wind, impacting your windows with tremendous force.

There are measures you can take to mitigate this risk.

  • First, secure outdoor objects that could become potential projectiles or store them indoors prior to the storm.
  • Second, trim back tree branches near your windows to reduce the possibility of them breaking off and causing damage.
  • Lastly, installing protective shutters or window films can provide an additional defense layer to protect your windows from harm.

Remember, even the smallest crack in a window can compromise the structural integrity against hurricane-force winds.

Impact Windows Are Your Best Bet in a Hurricane

Storm Protection Impact Glass

Impact windows are designed to withstand the force of hurricane-level winds and accompanying debris. They encompass several notable features:

Though their name might suggest otherwise, these aren’t merely windows made from purely impact-resistant material. These are ultra-strong window systems with resilient framing and unique bonding techniques, enhancing their toughness.

They are constructed to counter large and small impacts alike, from the forceful gusts of a hurricane to the destructive debris that’s often carried along with these winds. The layered composition of the glass minimizes breakage probablility.

Even if the outermost layer of impact windows shatter, the construction design helps ensure the broken pieces adhere to an inner membrane, preventing window ejection, resisting a full-scale breach, thus keeping you and your home safer.

The durability of these windows also extends to protection from sun damage and insulation against temperature extremes, providing added benefits to homeowners beyond hurricanes.

To install impact windows, it’s recommended to consult with certified professionals. They understand nuances in local building codes and the precise installation required for the windows to function optimally.

Will Hurricane Windows Break?

impact glass

Even the most robust hurricane windows are not completely invincible, yet their design and construction make them highly resistant to hurricane force winds and flying debris. These windows:

  • Have a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) sandwiched between two pieces of glass, which provides the high impact resistance.
  • Contain glass pieces that, even when cracked, stay adhered to the PVB layer, preventing dangerous shards from entering the building.
  • Require proper installation to perform optimally during hurricane conditions. It’s not enough to merely possess hurricane windows; professional installation ensures their benefits.
  • Make sure to engage professionals for routine checks and maintenance. Living in hurricane-prone areas makes regular window maintenance crucial to maintain safety levels.

Remember to replace damaged hurricane windows immediately. If there is cracking or other noticeable damage, don’t wait for a storm to hit. Replacement should be made as soon as possible to ensure your home’s defense.

What Happens After a Window Breaks During a Hurricane?

man checking window install

When a window breaches during a hurricane, several consequential occurrences unfold. Firstly, there’s the sudden influx of pressure inside the home. Unrelenting gusts invade the property, escalating the internal air pressure dramatically.

Simultaneously, external pressure bearing down on the roof intensifies. This push and pull force can potentially cause the roof to be lifted off or other structural damage to the house. It’s also vital to mention the instant exposure to hazardous debris carried by the storm, posing threats to both property and inhabitants.

Additionally, rainwater finds an easy pathway to pervade the home, further escalating the level of damage. Water damage not only affects physical property, but it also encourages the growth of mold which can lead to health-related issues in the future.

Taking preventative measures is key. Regular window inspection and maintenance, the installation of hurricane-proof windows or storm shutters, and using wind-resistant outdoor decor substantially minimize these mentioned risks. These steps won’t guarantee complete protection, but they will significantly reduce potential damage.


What wind speed can break a window?

Standard residential windows typically withstand winds up to 77 mph, while advanced windows can sustain winds up to 173 mph.

Can hurricane break windows?

Yes, hurricanes can break windows as they are made of glass which is susceptible to breakage.

Can hurricane winds break glass?

Yes, hurricane winds can indeed break glass, with Category 2 hurricanes posing a significant risk to unprotected glass windows and doors.

How strong of winds can hurricane windows handle?

Hurricane windows, specifically designed for robustness, can withstand high winds up to 170 mph and resist shattering upon impact.

What type of windows are best to withstand hurricane winds?

Impact-resistant windows, specifically those with laminated glass and sturdy frames, are the best types to withstand hurricane-force winds.

How does the angle of wind impact the breaking point for windows during a hurricane?

The angle of wind during a hurricane impacts the breaking point for windows by applying pressure unevenly, which can lead to greater stress on certain parts of the window, increasing the likelihood of a break.

Are hurricane windows bulletproof as well?

While hurricane windows are designed to withstand strong winds and impact from flying debris, they are not bulletproof.