With this technologically advanced society we all now live in, it has become easier to predict severe weather. We’ve got local news stations with severe weather centers that have super-duper Doppler 9000s that tell us all when it’s going to rain and how bad that will be. We’ve got national news channels that give us weather updates no matter what politics or current events we are watching.
Then there are the advisories and warnings for certain bad weather and storms with colored status and projected charts that somehow point to everywhere. Here in the southeast United States, everyone from Mississippi to Virginia buys water and batteries only to watch the projected storm turn north and never make landfall. It’s no wonder to me then that every year I get more and more inquiries from new and potential above ground pool owners on the topic of severe weather.
A Storm Is Coming – What About My Pool?
Here in Florida the biggest, baddest weather threat is a hurricane. Hurricanes pose a threat to a fairly large portion of the southeast United States. In reality they do more scaring than harm as we have pretty good building codes and get more than enough warning. There are tons of instruction on how to prepare for a hurricane – buy water, batteries, gas, and candles and board up some windows. But what about the above ground pool you just installed? While you’re camped out in an inner room inside your house, your pool will still be outside in the middle of the yard and all by itself. What will happen to it? Can it withstand the high winds and pounding rain? The short answer is yes.
The best thing an above ground pool has going for it during a hurricane is its weight. It may be sticking up out of the ground without any protection, but it weighs a lot. One gallon of water is 8.3 pounds. So, a typical 24’ round above ground weighs over 110 000 pounds. That’s the same weight as about 30 full-sized pick-up trucks all tied together in your backyard. So, guess what, no amount of wind is going to move your above ground pool. Though, they can get damaged.
While living in Florida for 40 years, I’ve experienced many storms. No year was worse than 2004 when Central Florida got hit by three major hurricanes. The destruction was extensive. We had downed trees everywhere, most lost power for days, and tens of thousands of roofs and porches and structures of all kinds were damaged. To my surprise, above ground pools fared well against the storms. There were, of course, thousands of them damaged, but most of the damage was minor. Almost 100% of the damage to above grounds was caused by flying debris and fallen tree branches. I was expecting a lot of repair and replacement work because of those storms, but above grounds did not need a lot of repairing. The in-ground pool repairs had me busy, though.
The Real Threat – Tornadoes
Some years ago I traveled to a small town outside of Orlando to build a pool in a neighborhood I’d never been to before. I didn’t recognize the homeowner at first as he just pretty much stuck his head out of his trailer just long enough to tell me where he wanted his pool installed and then went back inside. After we built his pool, I went into his house to get paid and then I recognized him.
“Yeah, you installed my pool some years ago,” he replied.
“Oh, I remember. So you moved?”
“No, it was here that you built the last pool,” he said. “Remember that tornado that hit Deland two years ago? It came straight through here. Tore up all the houses and everything in its path. They had to completely rebuild this neighborhood. Changed the streets and everything. Changed our property lines. It’s all different now.”
“Wow. That’s crazy,” I said. “Were you here when it came through?”
“Yes, I was,” he answered. “As a matter of fact, I was lookin’ out the window at the pool when the tornado hit. It sucked up all the pool’s water in about fifteen seconds. After the water got sucked out of it, it tore the wall apart and the whole thing disappeared.”
“No sh*#,” I swore. “That’s amazing! I wish I could have seen that. Too bad you didn’t video it.”
“Yeah, I’m just lucky me and family are alive,” he said as he finished writing my check and thanked me again for the job.
I’ve been telling that story ever since. Tornadoes are no joke and even above ground swimming pools with all their weight is no match for a direct hit. I’ve seen minor damage caused by tornadoes too as they have ripped off some top rails and thrown around pool equipment. An above ground still fares better than most against them (as long as the tornado doesn’t suck up the water. See the above story).
Hailstorms, Flooding, and Other Bad Weather News
Wind by far is the most concerning when it comes to severe weather and above ground pools, but there are some honorable mentions. Hailstorms can be damaging for sure. They take the life out of shingled roofs and easily dent cars. But do they affect above grounds? Not much. I have seen hail dents on pool walls, but they were never bad enough to compromise the wall’s ability to hold water. I’ve also seen some dents on metal top rails that were made by hail and a couple of aged pool covers destroyed by hail.
Flooding is another severe weather concern with pools. Some live in low flood prone areas and there are times where above ground pools are sitting in water for extended periods. As long as the floodwaters aren’t moving along the pool like a river, there’s not much threat for damage. Also, while it’s not a good idea for a pool to be soaking in water, it may not hurt it much. As long as the water eventually recedes back to normal and the pool can dry, flooding won’t cause much corrosion or rust. Extreme temperatures are worth mentioning as you don’t have to worry about it. The materials used for an above ground are made to be out in the elements and hold up well to extreme temperatures. Of course, there can be issues in places like Dubai and Central Canada. So, as long as your pool is exposed to temperatures between these extreme climates, you’re good.
To summarize, extreme weather shouldn’t affect most above ground pools; wind is the only real issue. So, if the Internet is telling you there’s a storm coming, secure anything that may be able to take flight in high winds and fly into your pool. Other than that, there isn’t much more you can do.
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