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Can Yurts Withstand High Winds (& Storms)? Answered

My friend’s grandparents were thinking about adding a yurt to their property, but they live in one of the windiest cities in the country and were concerned about the wind speeds. So, I put together a guide to help answer it. Here’s what I found.

Modern yurts can withstand storms and high winds with speeds up to 140 mph, while traditional yurts can tolerate wind speeds of up to 70-100 mph. Yurts are relatively safe during high winds due to their aerodynamic shape, anchoring systems, flexibility, and covers (made from heavy-duty, weather-resistant materials).

Since I’m a yurt-lover, and I’m from windy Texas, I wanted to explore more about yurts and how safe they are during storms. Let’s take a closer look.

How Much Wind Can Yurts Handle?

Yurts with a cloudy sky

There isn’t a universal wind resistance rating for all yurts, as their ability to withstand wind depends on various factors like the quality of materials used, the design and construction, and how well the yurt is anchored to the ground.

That being said, well-built and properly secured traditional yurts have been known to withstand wind speeds of up to 70-100 mph.

Modern yurts, especially those made with engineered materials and designed for more extreme conditions, may be able to withstand even higher wind speeds.

Pacific Yurts‘ largest yurt can be enhanced to withstand roof snow up to 100 pounds per square foot and wind up to 142 miles per hour.

It’s important to note that manufacturers may provide wind resistance ratings for their specific yurt models, so it’s a good idea to check with the manufacturer for the exact specifications (and recommendations) for securing the yurt against high winds

How Do Yurts Withstand Wind? (5 Ways They’re Durable)

Yurts have a unique ability to withstand wind due to several key design features and their inherent flexibility. Let’s delve deeper into these aspects to better understand how yurts stand strong in the face of high winds:

1. Aerodynamic Shape

The circular design and conical roof of a yurt play a crucial role in its ability to withstand wind. As opposed to rectangular or square structures, the round shape of a yurt offers no corners or flat walls for wind to exert force upon.

This aerodynamic shape enables the wind to flow smoothly around the yurt, minimizing the forces that could potentially damage or topple the structure.

The conical roof also contributes to this by directing the wind up and over the yurt, further reducing wind resistance.

2. Flexibility and Load Distribution

The lattice walls, tension band, and central compression ring work together to create a flexible structure that can bend with the wind without breaking.

The lattice walls provide the yurt with lateral stability while still allowing for flexibility in the face of strong winds. The tension band helps to hold the lattice walls and roof beams in place, while the central compression ring serves as the main support for the roof beams.

This combination of components creates a structure that can absorb and dissipate the energy from high winds, rather than resisting it and risking structural damage. The weight of the yurt is evenly distributed across its circular base, further enhancing its stability and ability to withstand strong winds.

3. Structural Integrity

The materials used in constructing a yurt also contribute to its wind resistance.

High-quality woods, like ash or poplar, are commonly used for the lattice walls and roof beams due to their strength and light weight. The covers, typically made from heavy-duty, weather-resistant materials like canvas or vinyl, provide an additional layer of protection against wind and other weather elements.

The overall structural integrity of a yurt is maintained through regular maintenance, ensuring that all components are in good condition and functioning correctly.

By keeping the yurt in optimal shape, it can continue to provide a safe and comfortable living space even during high winds and storms.

4. Anchoring System

Yurts are usually secured to the ground using anchors, ropes, or cables, ensuring that they remain firmly in place during high winds. The type of anchoring system used will depend on factors such as soil type, local building codes, and personal preference.

Some common anchoring methods include ground anchors, concrete piers, and wooden platforms. These systems prevent the yurt from being lifted or shifted by strong winds, adding an additional layer of security and stability.

Overall, yurts withstand wind through a combination of their aerodynamic shape, flexible yet stable structure, strong materials, and a reliable anchoring system.

Understanding these elements and ensuring that your yurt is well-maintained and properly secured, you can enjoy the benefits of off-grid living in a yurt even in areas with high winds and challenging weather conditions.

5. Specific Materials

Interior of a yurt

Yurts have been around for thousands of years, originally used by nomadic tribes in Central Asia. These versatile structures have been designed to endure the harsh weather conditions often found in those regions.

Here are some key materials that make yurts capable of withstanding high winds:

  1. Lattice Wall: The lattice walls, made from interlocking wooden slats, provide a flexible yet sturdy structure that can flex with the wind, reducing the likelihood of damage. The wooden slats are typically made of lightweight, strong woods like ash or poplar, ensuring that the structure remains durable and long-lasting.
  2. Tension Band: A tension band, usually made from a heavy-duty polyester or nylon webbing, encircles the entire yurt, adding stability and strength to the overall structure. This band helps to hold the lattice walls and roof beams in place, ensuring that the yurt maintains its shape even in strong winds.
  3. Central Compression Ring: This wooden or metal ring, located at the top of the yurt, distributes the weight of the roof evenly, helping it withstand pressure from strong winds. The compression ring also serves as the central support for the roof beams, called rafters, which radiate outward from the ring and rest on the lattice wall.
  4. Durable Covers: Yurts are typically covered with heavy-duty, weather-resistant materials like canvas or vinyl, which offer protection against rain, snow, and wind. These covers are designed to withstand harsh UV rays, resist mildew, and provide a watertight barrier to keep the interior of the yurt dry and comfortable.

6 Steps To Improve Your Yurt’s Structure

yurt in mongolia

While yurts are inherently designed to withstand high winds and storms, there are additional steps you can take to further enhance the strength and durability of your yurt.

Here are some tips and best practices to help you improve your yurt’s structure:

1. Proper Site Selection

Choose a location that offers natural protection from wind, such as a hillside or an area surrounded by trees. By positioning your yurt in a sheltered location, you can reduce the wind’s impact and minimize the risk of damage.

Be cautious not to choose a site prone to flooding or with poor drainage, as water damage can undermine the structure of your yurt.

You can also build your yurt on a concrete platform or a deck to prevent from lightning striking and floods.

2. Reinforced Covers

Invest in a reinforced cover made from heavy-duty materials to provide added protection against extreme weather.

Some covers come with additional layers of insulation, reinforced stitching, or extra coatings, which can help improve the yurt’s resilience against high winds, heavy snow, and storms.

These reinforced covers not only offer better protection but can also improve the overall energy efficiency of your yurt.

3. Additional Support

Add extra support beams or columns to the yurt’s interior, helping to distribute the weight and strengthen the structure.

You can consult with a structural engineer or yurt manufacturer to determine the best way to reinforce your yurt based on your specific location and climate conditions.

Adding support may include reinforcing the lattice walls, adding braces between the rafters, or installing additional roof beams to provide greater structural integrity.

4. Upgraded Anchoring System

Consider upgrading your yurt’s anchoring system to better secure it in high-wind areas.

Some options include using longer or thicker ground anchors, installing additional anchors around the perimeter, or using heavy-duty cables to secure the yurt to the ground.

An anchoring system is a critical component of any yurt structure, as it keeps the yurt securely attached to the ground and prevents it from being blown away by strong winds.

The type of anchoring system you use will depend on your yurt’s size, location, and the soil conditions in your area. Some common types of anchoring systems include:

  1. Stakes: This is the most basic type of anchoring system, which involves driving metal or wooden stakes into the ground around the perimeter of the yurt. The stakes are attached to the tension band or frame using ropes or cables.
  2. Auger Anchors: Auger anchors are corkscrew-shaped metal stakes that are driven into the ground using a drill or auger. They offer greater holding power than traditional stakes and are a good option for yurts located in areas with soft or sandy soil.
  3. Concrete Anchors: Concrete anchors are heavy-duty anchors that are embedded in concrete footings that are poured into the ground. They provide excellent stability and are recommended for larger yurts or yurts located in areas with high winds or severe weather.
  4. Ballast Weights: Ballast weights are heavy objects, such as concrete blocks or sandbags, that are placed on the yurt’s frame or tension band to keep it firmly anchored to the ground. They are a good option for yurts located in areas where driving stakes or anchors into the ground is not feasible, such as on pavement or rocky terrain.

5. Weatherproofing

Ensure that your yurt is well-sealed and weatherproofed, especially at the seams, windows, and doors. Use high-quality weatherstripping and caulking to keep out drafts, rain, and snow.

Make sure to inspect and maintain these seals regularly to prevent water damage and maintain the structural integrity of your yurt.

6. Regular Maintenance

Inspect your yurt regularly for signs of wear and tear, and repair any damage promptly to keep your yurt in optimal condition.

This includes checking for any loose or damaged components, such as the tension band, lattice wall, or anchoring system, and addressing any issues as soon as possible.

Check out my recent post How Long Do Yurts Last (Are They a Good Investment)? if you’re looking to see if buying a yurt is worth it.

Can Yurts Withstand Snow and Rain?

2 yurts in the snow

Yurts can absolutely handle snow and rain. Yurts originate from Mongolia, which has pretty brutal weather conditions. So this is a good indicator that modern yurts can definitely withstand winds and storms.

To protect against snow and rain, yurts are typically covered with multiple layers of insulation and waterproofing materials.

The outer layer is usually made of a heavy-duty, weather-resistant fabric like vinyl or canvas that effectively repels water and resists wear and tear. Beneath the outer layer, insulation materials such as wool or synthetic felt help to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, even in cold or wet conditions.

Again, be careful not to choose a site prone to flooding or with poor drainage. You can build on a platform to prevent from lightning striking and floods.

Snow load capacity is a crucial factor in determining whether a yurt can withstand heavy snowfall. Modern yurts are engineered to handle a variety of snow loads, depending on the requirements of the local climate.

Heavy-duty yurts can be designed with additional support beams and a more robust frame to bear the weight of snow accumulation, while lighter yurts may be suitable for areas with less frequent or lighter snowfall.

Final Thoughts

Yurts are a remarkable testament to human ingenuity, combining ancient design principles with modern materials to create a resilient living space.

By understanding the unique features that enable yurts to withstand high winds and storms, and taking the necessary steps to improve and maintain your yurt’s structure, you can confidently embrace off-grid living in a yurt even in challenging weather conditions.

Remember, it’s essential to choose the right location, invest in quality materials, reinforce the structure when needed, and maintain your yurt to ensure its longevity.