Weather & Natural Disasters

Structures and building systems may be damaged due to a variety of natural phenomena, ranging from snow and hail, to wind, tornadoes and hurricanes, to earthquake damage.  When damage occurs, Western Engineering & Research Corporation (WERC) professionals are available to investigate.  We provide damage assessment, repair design, and evaluation for subrogation efforts.  Our staff of engineers and architects will not only analyze the damage and determine if the cause is weather or hazard related, but also conclude if the severity of the damage matches the weather patterns of the area, and if the damage is related to the recent storm or if the damage was preexisting.

  • Hail:  Hail occurs most often with in continental interiors and along mountain ranges where fierce winds are forced upwards, intensifying the updraft cycle that forms hail.  Frequently, hail damage is dismissed as aesthetic or functional damage, however, hail can cause considerable damage to a building.  Wood shingles can split and crack from hail impacts, while clay shingles can be shattered. The impact of a hail stone on asphalt shingles can cause the granules of asphalt to detach, exposing the asphalt mat underneath to UV degradation.  Over time, the exposed asphalt will become brittle and can lead to the failure of the entire roof system.  Roof failures related to hail can vary dramatically depending on the size and trajectory of the hail stones, the slope of the roof and the type of roof system installed.  When the professionals at WERC are called in to inspect a property for storm damage relating to hail, we assess all elements of the property, not just the roof.  Wood decks, building materials, fences, light-gauge metals on mechanical vents and gutters, windows and doors, and the exterior facade of the residence are all susceptible to impact marks.  Our professionals use various weather services to detect, track, and analyze past storm patterns to truly understand how the suspected damaged occurred.

      WERC offers hail damage roof inspections on a fixed-fee basis. 

      Download our brochure for more details.

  • Lightning: One single bolt of lightning can carry between 35-40 amps of power and can reach temperatures of 50,000+°F. Is it any wonder that in 2012 lightning strikes injured at least 2,651 individuals, and took 531 lives? That same year, lightning strikes caused more than $32 million in property damage. While the lightning strike itself does cause direct damage, it is the byproduct of the strike, fires and power surges, which ravage personal, corporate and industrial property. Electronic equipment and electrical facilities are particularly susceptible to power surges, though the destructiveness of the power surge depends on the how far the property is from the lightning strike and how much power is being carried through the lightning at the time. Whether you have a property damage claim or a human or animal fatality, the professionals at WERC can arrive at a lightning strike site immediately to begin the investigative process.

(Lightning statistics provided by the National Weather Service, http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov)

  • Snow & Ice Overload: The density of snow is approximately 20 pounds per cubic foot. Many design codes require buildings to withstand a minimum snow load of 25 psf , which equates to 15 inches of snow accumulation. Yet under the accumulated weight of winter snow and ice roofs can leak, sink and in some cases can overload and collapse the entire structure. Our architectural and engineering professionals can evaluate roofing problems, condensation issues, building insulation, mechanical systems, and other building systems relative to moisture problems. Heavy snow accumulation in mountainous areas can be particularly challenging, especially if the design or construction failed to adequately anticipate the local conditions. Periodically, heavy snowfall occurs throughout the US, sometimes causing structural failures. WERC Professionals are experienced with the investigation of collapsed structures, and we provide rapid response to a scene to inspect and document the conditions, such as snow weight.