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Author Topic: Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?  (Read 14930 times)

Offline CliffordK

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« on: 30/04/2011 05:42:03 »
Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?

People talk about building Earthquake Proof Housing.
Perhaps Hurricane Proof Housing.
Even Wildfire-Proof Housing.

What about Tornado-Proof Housing?

Trailer Parks have historically been places for good photos after tornadoes.  However, the recent Alabama Tornadoes seem to have made kindling out of many wood frame houses.  And with tragic consequences including the loss of many lives.

It would seem that just like there are earthquake standards in housing construction, there should also be tornado standards in the midwest and southeast.

A reinforced Concrete Structure would likely withstand the winds better.

Or, perhaps an underground house.

http://www.homedit.com/earth-house-by-peter-vetsch/

The windows would still be a vulnerability.  Tempered Glass would help, but still might be susceptible to impact fracturing.  Wired Glass or Laminated Bullet-Proof Glass might also offer some additional protection.  Also, heavy metal shutters assuming they would actually get closed and latched in time.  Perhaps one could tie automated shutters to an early warning system.

I suppose, like many things, one could spend a lot of money building durable housing.  Perhaps doubling the cost of the houses. 

Is it worth it?



 

Offline imatfaal

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #1 on: 30/04/2011 09:38:45 »
In the Greek Islands the main modern method of building new property is to construct a steel rebar (i think that's right word) skeleton, wait till you get more money, clad in wood to make mould, wait till you get more money, invite along the concrete truck and pour the concrete into the mould, and then leave for a year whilst you save more money to actually change the shell into a house.  If this is done properly I would be very surprised if these building would not be fairly weather proof (excepting the points made by CliffK above).  Sometimes only the floor/ceilings and supports are done like this and the rest is bricked - but they do seem very robust structures.  Many Greek buildings do have metal shutters - the hinges, brackets, and latches would need huge reinforcement to keep out a tornado force wind but wind proof shutters would not alter the look of many modern Greek buildings

I doubt these buildings are massively expensive compared to alternatives, especially on islands where wood must be shipped in from quite a distance (good luck trying to build a wood framed house from olive tree wood - even if one could afford it).  Have the Greek Islanders not realised they are in an earthquake zone and not in a tornado zone?
 

Offline CliffordK

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #2 on: 30/04/2011 16:30:03 »
Have the Greek Islanders not realised they are in an earthquake zone and not in a tornado zone?
I think from looking at some of the Haiti reports that for small buildings, 1 & 2 stories, that reinforced concrete and strengthening of the corners is key.  So, if the Greeks put in adequate rebar, then their homes would likely fare quite well in an earthquake. 

Japan has some pretty spectacular earthquake proofing in their tall skyscrapers.

In much of the USA, structural wood is cheap.  But, Tornadoes and Hurricanes make kindling out of it, and fires consume it as kindling.

Note that Concrete is not a great insulator, so it might be better suited to mild climates.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #3 on: 30/04/2011 16:42:59 »
Here in the UK I wonder if American kids don't read the story of the 3 little pigs.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Little_Pigs

We build our houses from bricks and mortar. They survive tornadoes (though the roofs get trashed).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/4543076.stm
(pic 8)
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2005/07/29/gone-in-30-seconds-birmingham-tornado-115875-15794482/
 

Offline yor_on

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #4 on: 01/05/2011 03:43:57 »
There seems to be two ways. You can build cheap and low, accepting to rebuild. Or you can reinforce, much more expensive short term but better from a long term perspective. It also has to do with what your society finds a human life being worth. If there is little interest of saving life's, then profit will define the buildings. And as humans mostly look at it from a shorter time perspective, then 20-30 years should give you a good 'investment' I suspect. Corruption will also be a major part of how a building is constructed, Countries where corruption is wide spread, maybe even seen as a legitimate way of life will find that fewer buildings will match the blueprints when finished.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #5 on: 01/05/2011 05:33:12 »
The Eastern USA gets regularly pounded with hurricanes and tornadoes.

So, I don't think the problem is corruption.

But, rather the idea of build cheaply, then rebuild if necessary.

Hurricanes tend to wipe out wide swaths of land.
Tornadoes are often much more focused.

For example, in St. Louis, only a very small fraction of the city was actually hit.

Say if you have a 1/1,000,000 chance that your house is hit by a tornado in any given year.
Then over a century, that gives a 1/10,000 chance the house will be hit.  Not too bad of odds.

If it doubles the cost to make the houses tornado proof, then perhaps it is not worth the odds. 

The question then comes down to loss of life.  It may be cheaper to build a storm cellar than try to reinforce the entire house including the roof.  Just over 300 people were killed last week in the South-East.  But, not all would be attributable to the housing construction methods.

As far as brick homes.

Brick homes are not immune to tornadoes.  However, a common construction technique here in the USA is to build a wood frame house, and then add a brick veneer.

 

Offline yor_on

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #6 on: 01/05/2011 07:00:58 »
Ah realized that it might seem as I was discussing USA there :) I did not think of that in form of wide spread corruption. Baksheesh, or its equivalent though, is a way of life in many Countries, and depending on its form may express itself in the concrete used etc. Most Western countries have strict building norms although we at times find the same problems here.

As a general good advice, no matter your country, when it comes to building. Before accepting a contractor, check them up, ask for references. And maybe, just maybe, choose the one that makes sense, not the one that is cheapest. There are ways too keep old concrete fresh for example, simple ways involving watering it. But if you want that concrete to fulfill your building norms it can only be watered out that much. After that it starts to lose its structural integrity as I understands it.
 

Offline SeanB

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #7 on: 01/05/2011 12:49:00 »
Tornado proof is mostly about making the structure as solid as possible, with as few weak points and corners that are prone to failure. A round structure with a solidly bonded roof of appropriate material will be quite tornado proof, though you have to make it able to survive the debris in the tornado, as straw has been shown as capable of penetrating steel sheet in a tornado, and wooden beams are capable of penetrating walls.
 

Offline JimBob

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #8 on: 05/05/2011 04:12:30 »
Texas Tech University has all sorts of plans for totally tornado proof housing. The reason they do not get built is mostly expense.

The odds of getting blown away by a tornado are less than those of being killed AND eaten by a shark in the Thames near New Your City. And yes, I know a bit about geography and where both features are located.

 

Offline CliffordK

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #9 on: 05/05/2011 18:55:59 »
Some of the debris is caused by poor construction.
Improve the construction techniques, and there will be less flying debris.

But, I think it all boils down to expense.

While it is devastating to have one's own house destroyed by a tornado, some of the remedies are just too expensive.  For example adding electronically controlled tornado proof window shutters might be very expensive.  Manual shutters are good, but it is too much of a pain to run around closing them for every false alarm, and would be ineffective at night, or while one is away from the house.

So, people choose not to invest in tornado proofing their homes as the risk of a tornado is less than the added expense.

I still think there would be benefits of good solid construction though.  Build a house to last several generations... not just one's own lifetime.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #10 on: 05/05/2011 19:33:30 »
This is weird.
The risk of a tornado in the UK is tiny, yet most of our houses are built in such a way that they will stand up to one relatively well.
Why aren't yours?
 

Offline Geezer

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #11 on: 05/05/2011 20:03:39 »
This is weird.
The risk of a tornado in the UK is tiny, yet most of our houses are built in such a way that they will stand up to one relatively well.
Why aren't yours?

I'm not sure that's entirely true. I can remember the devastation caused by the hurricane that rolled over Central Scotland in January 1968, and I'm reasonably sure the wind speeds were much less than those in a tornado.

Perhaps the best solution is to build a storm cellar, or a reinforced area in a basement. Your house may not survive, but you very probably will. 
 

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Is it possible to make Tornado-Proof Housing?
« Reply #11 on: 05/05/2011 20:03:39 »

 

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