What Would It Take To Build A Completely Tornado-Proof House?

Is it possible to build a tornado-proof house? originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Kelly Kinkade, storm spotter in Illinois since 2008, on Quora:

Not easily, and not without spending an extraordinary amount of money. The strongest tornadoes can generate winds in excess of 300 miles per hour. Storms with these speeds can literally hurl chunks of rock, pieces of buildings, and even whole cars around like a toddler having a tantrum with a PlayMobil playset. Thus, to make a structure totally tornado-proof requires that the structure be designed to withstand both the impact of a one-ton boulder being hurled at it at 100-150 miles per hour as well as wind loads of 300 mph or more. This means you need a structure made out of either foot-thick reinforced concrete or two to three inch thick solid steel armor plate. Doors must be solid steel with reinforced frames and extra strong locking mechanisms (otherwise the storm will just suck the door open). No windows.

Here’s a basic design for a tornado-proof safe room:

photo: quad-lock

Many homes in Oklahoma have a “safe room” along this design. The tornado may destroy the house but the safe room is likely to survive.

While building a house along these lines is possible, the house would be extremely expensive, and most people would not enjoy the idea of having a house with no windows.

A newer concept that is starting to catch on in Oklahoma is to build the house under a concrete dome structure. The rounded shape of the dome presents less wind surface loading, making the home much less vulnerable to wind impacts; it’s also possible that the rounded shape makes debris more likely to glance off rather than hit square on, or to miss entirely. While it’s still too soon to say that these designs are tornado-proof, they are almost certainly more resistant than traditional home designs.

This concrete dome house in Blanchard, OK took a direct hit from an EF4 tornado in 2014. While the windows were blown out and there was significant damage, the structure survived. Most other structures in the area were stripped to the foundation.

source: forbes.com

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