Christmas lawn decorations are sometimes no match for Mother Nature

Usually, a light breeze is not enough to send lights and inflatables airborne, but once wind gusts reach strong levels on the Beaufort scale, your decorations might end up in someone else’s yard.

Ahead of a storm system that is expected to produce gusty winds during the holiday season, it is advised that you double-check your decorations to make sure they don’t become victims to Mother Nature.

Usually, a light breeze is not enough to send lights and inflatables airborne, but once wind gusts reach strong levels on the Beaufort scale, your decorations might end up in someone else’s yard.

According to NOAA, the Beaufort Wind Scale was developed by Britain’s Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort in the early 1800s to aid sailors’ estimation of wind strengths.

The scale is still occasionally used today and can help determine the impact of a future wind event.

Much like the advice given before a tropical storm or a hurricane, residents who face gusty winds from thunderstorms or significant low-pressure systems are urged to secure loose objects that can become airborne. 

Typically, patio furniture, sports equipment, trash cans and trampolines are all top-of-mind to secure, but during the holiday season, one’s list might expand to include Hanukkah and Christmas items that are exposed to outdoor elements.


Movement of items tends to begin during what is considered to be a "strong breeze" on the Beaufort scale, with winds that reach at least 25 mph.

At this level, if inflatable decorations are secured correctly by stakes and tied down with weights, there shouldn’t be any issues with airborne objects.

Once winds reach the 35-40 mph range, even properly tied down objects can start to fail.

This would be the equivalent of a weak tropical storm or when a Wind Advisory is issued by local National Weather Service offices, outside of a thunderstorm event.

Winds are classified as damaging once they reach 50-60 mph, and there is little that can be done to save even the most secure decorations.


Advice from holiday experts

The experts at Christmas Central have several tips to keep those inflatable decorations from flying away.

They suggest using stakes, sandbags and even twine to keep Mother Nature from becoming the season’s Grinch.

The location of the holiday display can also play a role in exposure to elements. A site that is next to a wall has natural protection versus objects that are far away from any structures.

A tip that may not be in the item’s installation manual is to add weight to the base in order to prevent it from toppling over.

Christmas Central says bags of sand or gravel work well in helping to secure lawn decorations.

If you want guaranteed success, you might have to temporarily collapse and store the holiday decorations until the threat of significant weather passes.


Mother Nature has long history of being the Grinch

FOX Weather didn’t have to go back far in our archives to find examples of windstorms wreaking havoc with holiday decorations.

In the days before the annual National Christmas Tree lighting outside the White House in November, a sudden gust of wind is thought to have knocked over the 40-foot Norway spruce.

The National Park Service believes a cable gave way when winds briefly reached over 40 mph.

A crane that was on scene was able to quickly upright the tree, so the lighting ceremony went on without a hitch.

In 2022, two giant baubles from a Christmas display in London broke free from their display and smashed into objects along a roadway.

Some described the scene as looking like a warzone as the giant decorations smashed into light poles and signs.

Onlookers grabbed their cellphones and took video of the episode, which could make for a scene in a Christmas horror episode.

And back in 2021, a story that tugged at the hearts of Americans took place outside of Salem, Oregon.

A windstorm made a mess of Miriam Sierra’s porch display and resulted in something that would only be seen in an episode of the Griswold’s.

Sierra said her trees fell down, and decorations were scattered across her front lawn.

Fortunately, an Amazon delivery driver was in the right place, and after he dropped off a package, he attended to straightening the Christmas display.

The entire act was caught on a security camera on the home’s front porch.

"One by one, strategically placing it nicely back in their little spots and, you know, making sure it was standing up. It was just the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen," Sierra said.