Storm shelters and what TMs safest?
Wed, 28 Apr 2010 03:02:04 GMT —
It happens nearly every time that one of the Storm Search 7 Meteorologists is on the air talking about taking shelter from an approaching tornado. The phone rings. The viewer on the other end of the line asks|are there community shelters available in my city?Well, if you live in Amarillo, the answer is No. Why is that?Kevin Starbuck, Amarillo TMs Emergency Management Coordinator, explains that a city as large as Amarillo would pose a huge risk asking citizens to leave the relative safety of their homes to get into their cars and drive to the nearby community shelter. The last place that you want to be in a tornado is in an automobile. For smaller towns like Cactus, that was severely damaged by a tornado on April 21, 2007, a community shelter makes more sense.So, if not every city has community shelters, what kind of shelter for the home is the safest? Being underground in some type of basement or underground structure is best, but what about the above-ground shelters that the Texas Tech Wind Research Facility has studied and found capable of withstanding an EF-5 tornado?One type of these shelters uses Kevlar, the same type of material built into the bullet-proof vests. The idea is that the material will absorb or deflect airborne debris similar to deflecting bullets.Another type of shelter is one that is built underneath an existing garage with a top that can be lifted up and pulled down to shelter a family. There TMs yet another that involves a reinforced concrete structure that is glued down into place in a garage or other location in a house.How safe are these prototypes of the tornado-proof rooms?Dr. Ernst Keisling, Director of Texas Tech TMs Wind Research Center, said much of his research evolved around the devastating F5 tornado that hit Lubbock in 1970. After looking over the damage caused by that tornado, Keisling TMs research centered on producing an interior room could endure wind-blown objects at speeds higher than 200 mph.There are numerous ways to take shelter during a tornado emergency. The main thing is that no matter what type of shelter you choose, make sure that you have enough time to reach that location and that your family has a plan of action, just like you would in the case of a fire, so that when the situation arrives, you are ready.