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Researchers with Texas Tech’s National Wind Institute Releases Findings on Storm-Shelter Failure in Arkansas Tornado

Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute released findings concerning a shelter door that failed during a tornado in Arkansas.

Wind researchers with Texas Tech recently released conclusions on forensic testing into a failed storm shelter door that resulted in the death of its lone occupant.

The April 27, 2014 tornado that struck Mayflower and Vilonia, Arkansas was classified as an EF-4 twister that generated winds estimated to top out at 200 mph. The twister killed 12 total.

During the course of their study, researchers disassembled the door and discovered that the door was not intended to be used in storm shelter -applications.

“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.”

Researchers are now concerned with the materials being used to create many above-ground storm-shelters.

According to Texas Tech, The NSSA is currently working with Kiesling and Larry Tanner, of the NWI, at Tech’s Debris Impact Test Facility. There, scientists hope to address a serious the issue of substandard, untested materials in above-ground shelters.

Continuing their research, Tech researchers will use their debris launcher to highlight elements of failure and success withstanding tornado-like winds in a variety of doors. To assist in this endeavor they will use a high-speed photography system.

Finally, researchers intend on developing strategies and methods to modify substandard doors and sharing this information with the public.

According to their website, The National Wind Institute was established in December 2012, and is intended to serve as Texas Tech University’s intellectual hub for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, commercialization and education related to wind science, wind energy, wind engineering and wind hazard mitigation and serves faculty affiliates, students and external partners.

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