Wind researchers find reasons on failed shelter door during Arkansas tornado

Wind Researchers Release Findings on Failed Shelter Door Struck by Arkansas Tornado

They remind consumers to trust only those building materials tested to withstand high tornadic winds.


When building an above-ground storm shelter, or any shelter for that matter, make sure building materials are rated to withstand high tornadic winds and the onslaught of debris those winds can bring.

Especially when it comes to selecting doors.

That’s the tragic take-home message two Texas Tech University wind researchers want homeowners to receive after completing forensic testing on a door that failed earlier this year during a tornado in Mayflower and Vilonia, Arkansas. The April 27 EF-4 twister generated winds estimated at 166-200 mph that took the life of one person inside the above-ground shelter and 12 total.

In Phase I of the project, researchers at Texas Tech took the door apart and discovered that, while the door was well-built, it wasn’t intended for storm-shelter application, prompting scientists to wonder how many other storm shelters may be equally unequipped. The forensic work performed on the door was witnessed by experts in the door and hardware industry.

“The door is a critical component of an above ground storm shelter and also an expensive component,” said Ernst Kiesling, research professor at Texas Tech’s National Wind Institute (NWI) and executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA). “To be effective, the door must be able to withstand wind-induced pressures as well as windborne debris. Hardware including latches, hinges and deadbolts must also be chosen carefully to assure reliability in storm shelter applications. The entire door system, including frame and hardware, should be proven by testing to be appropriate for storm shelter application.”

Read more...