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There is a great degree of misunderstanding or misinformation in regard to mobile home wind zones. Most people inaccurately believe that mobile homes are absolutely begging to be wiped out by high winds from a tornado or hurricane.
Of course, that’s not really accurate. This idea is an outdated perception that predates The Housing and Urban Developments (HUD) oversight in the construction of modern “mobile homes” – manufactured homes.
So what are mobile home wind zones?
Mobile home wind zones are geographical areas throughout the United States that have been designated by HUD. Manufactured homes that will be set in those areas must meet specific construction and safety standards. These wind zones are categorized as zone I, zone II, and zone III.
For the majority of the country, wind zone I is home. The Gulf and East Coasts make up most of zones II and III.
There is a table that you can refer to that contains the multitude of regulations and specific requirements that have to be met when a mobile home is constructed in specific wind zones.
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Are Wind Zones Accurate?
They’re as accurate as can be with meteorological and science can determine with the available technology. That’s hard to stomach at times, especially when countless meteorologists call for 100% of rain during the day, only for the sun to shine the entire time.
Perhaps the best way to determine its accuracy is to look at the homes themselves. Since the inception of these building requirements in the various zones, homes have largely fared much better than homes that were constructed or designed prior to the inception of wind zone requirements.
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How Do Mobile Homes Meet Specs for Wind Zones?
Mobile homes are constructed according to the wind zone in which they will be placed. That includes roof, wall, and frame. Each must be capable of withstanding a certain pressure per square foot both horizontally and in regards to lift. By fortifying the various structural components of the home, they are better able to resist high wind speeds. HUD is generally responsible for keeping these codes updated and you can see their Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards at CFR 3280 (or, the HUD Code)
The HUD code also includes how the mobile home is set in place, in terms of the anchoring mechanism used on top of a concrete foundation. Mobile homes that are built to code for Zone I wind zones, cannot legally be placed in Zone II. However, a mobile home manufactured to Zone II specs can definitely be placed in a Zone 1, something which happens quite frequently. Zone II encompasses much of the Gulf Coast, however, there are some Zone Is in there.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “what about tornado alley?” Well, it might be surprising to here but that are of the country falls under wind zone I. While tornadoes are experienced frequently, they are not a sustained wind over a long period of time like the coastlines.
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How to Know What Zone Your Mobile Home is Rated For?
You can find what wind zone your home is rated for in one of three locations:
- Inside the kitchen cabinet
- Inside the electrical panel door
- On a closet wall
There’s no indication as to what closet wall or what kitchen cabinet. However, it should be a metal plate with a list of zones on it. The zone your home is manufactured for will be checked or marked by “x”.
If yours is on the electrical panel, there is only one in the home, so it should be easy to locate.
In general, mobile homes are built to a certain specification for wind resistance. Older mobile homes may not have such a specification. If you’re in an older mobile home, built prior to 1976, you should check to find out what it is in comparison to your location’s wind zone.