A Guide to Hurricane Windows and High Winds in Colorado

Written by KC Glass on . Posted in Blog

Last spring, high winds caused considerable damage throughout Colorado. Thousands of people and businesses lost power, large trees toppled over roadways, and fires were fanned by the strong gusts that reached speeds up to 80 miles per hour.

If you’re replacing the windows in a commercial building in Colorado, high-impact or hurricane glass is a good choice to consider. Hurricane-resistant glass protects people and assets in wind-prone areas. Here’s what you need to know about high wind and windows in Colorado.

Expect High Winds in These Locations

Chinook winds massing over the Front Range are responsible for some high-wind conditions in Colorado. Significant origins of high winds in the state are the pressure differences that happen when cold high-pressure air systems meet strong low-pressure air systems.

Eastern mountain slopes in Colorado experience winds that reach speeds of 60 to 100 miles per hour owing to the Chinook winds. If you’re in or near the foothills of some areas of Colorado, expect powerful, gusting winds to blow against your building, especially in winter.

Areas of expected high winds include:

  • Boulder
  • Canon City
  • Colorado Springs
  • Denver
  • Fort Collins
  • Trinidad
  • Walsenburg
  • Westcliffe

High winds shatter windows, force precipitation into window frames, toss vehicles in parking lots, and send tree limbs and other debris flying into buildings. If your building is located in a vulnerable location, hire a service to install hurricane-resistant glass on some or all of your structure’s windows and doors.

Research the Types of Safety Glass Available

Your professional glass installer is a great source of knowledge and access to safety glass of all types. Safety glass can be classified as hurricane-resistant, impact-resistant, burglar-resistant, or blast-resistant. Hurricane- and impact-rated windows are ideal for use in commercial structures exposed to high winds.

Burglar- and blast-resistant glass windows and doors are most often installed on facilities that are strategic assets, government buildings, or retail buildings in high-crime areas. Burglar- and blast-resistant glass protect structures from intrusion and acts of terrorism but may be cost-prohibitive and not necessary for wind protection.

Lamination is the process that makes safety glass strong. Manufacturers use two or more layers of glass sandwiched around a non-glass material. The glass itself may break under high winds or impact from flying metal, but the broken pieces of hurricane glass remain affixed to the laminate. The glass shards don’t shatter.

Safety materials that fill spaces between laminated glass layers may include:

  • Polyvinyl butyral (PVB)
  • Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA)
  • Thermoset EVA
  • Polycarbonate
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  • Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)

Manufacturers construct cockpit glass on airplanes and bullet-proof glass on limousine doors with the same processes used to create hurricane-resistant glass for commercial buildings. The differences between the various types of safety glass are found in the precise laminating materials used and the physical tolerances of the glass types upon testing.

Tests performed on hurricane glass include the effects of and ability to withstand:

  • Planks shot from air cannons
  • Impacts from ball bearings
  • Design tests for pressure tolerances

A hurricane-proof glass window is rated in pounds per square foot (PSF) with a rating between 30 to 90 PSF. Some hurricane-proof glass will withstand the effects of 200-mile-per-hour winds.

Understand Impact-Resistant Glass Is Only As Good As the Installation

If you place hurricane only on the windward side of your building or surrounding staff in crucial areas, you protect those areas without investing in a complete hurricane-proof retrofit of all of your commercial structure’s glass. However, be aware that high winds can sweep around buildings and send debris flying into windows on the leeward sides of structures.

If your commercial structure is near an open prairie, paved industrial zone, urban high-rise development, or other unsheltered location, winds can become intense all around the building. Broken windows on one side of the window allow moisture to invade your building. Your windward-side hurricane glass can only mitigate problems on its part of the structure.

Location is only one consideration when having hurricane glass installed. The hurricane glass is only as durable and wind-resistant as the materials used to attach the glass to your building. If window frames around hurricane glass are shoddy or corroded, the hurricane glass loses effectiveness to protect buildings.

Without the proper tools, techniques, waterproofing, and fasteners, your hurricane windows can’t do their jobs of standing tall against high winds. Loose screws, degraded window frames, and improper anchors for windows cause hurricane windows to fall or blow away under pressure.

Insist on hiring a professional glass installer to place your safety glass on your structures. Experts in the glass industry understand how to work with all types of glass. Staff of professional glass companies can advise you on the best ways to protect your commercial structure to increase safety and possibly lower insurance premiums.

Aside from its safety, hurricane-rated glass is considered energy efficient and sound dampening. Hurricane-resistant glass is a worthwhile investment because you can protect your employees from physical harm, reduce jarring traffic noise for important clients, and lower your heating and cooling costs by installing only one new kind of window and door product.

Schedule installation of hurricane-resistant glass before winter by contacting Ken Caryl Glass, Inc. We install safety glass on commercial and industrial structures throughout the state of Colorado.

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Ken Caryl Glass, Inc.