Hell, around here a good storm that doesn't even produce a tornado very
frequently knocks over the empty semitrailer that construction companies
park at their work sites as portable billboards. Quite common to drive
by after a good storm and see them on their sides.
Oh, simple rollover is easy...I was speaking of real damage. One would
presume if it was intended as storm shelter usage it would have been
tied down so rollover wasn't much an issue.
We're in the king of the straight-line winds and t-storm country so know
that quite well....today and tomorrow are "wait and see" what develops"
days for at least isolated severe.
Well, sure, I've seen the damage. I've not seen amy damage done by an F5 to
a cargo container, though. The wind certainly is not going to rip apart a
container nor is anything airborne by said wind going to penetrate the
walls. A storm might tip it over - maybe even move it a few feet. I'd worry
more about the cat inside the container than what was going on outside.
In the alternative to a cargo container, how about a concrete septic tank
(which is designed to be buried)?
I'm not sure what container you're thinking -- the storage containers
I'm thinking of will prevent most penetration certainly, I wouldn't go
so far as _no_ penetration or partial crushing. I'm trying to think if
there were any at Greensburg; can't recall one, specifically.
For the septic tank, unless it were reinforced which I don't think they
generally are, I don't believe they would be rated adequate although
certainly again it would stand up to a lot more than just ordinary
I'd suggest looking at the Texas A&M site for construction guidelines;
they're about the most comprehensive I'm aware of.
We use the basement and hope it doesn't lift the entire house off...
What _can_ happen in the truly monsters is simply beyond comprehension
until one sees some of the results first hand.
At Greensburg a couple of the more incredible were a full-size
automobile deposited on the top of the courthouse (a 1900s three-story
structure w/ 10-ft ceilings high).
The second was a new JD STS 70-series combine was rolled/carried and
ended up almost eight miles from the dealership equipment lot from
whence it started. These puppies weigh 30-32,000 lb base weight w/o the
header. This one didn't have a header on it and was essentially nothing
but a rolled-up ball of green metal to look at afterwards. It was
several days before it was located it was so far from where anybody had
any thought of what might have happened to it.
Yes, a cargo container *underground* will be safe from most any tornado
damage, as well as being plenty big for comfort.
Cargo container walls are fairly strong, however anyone familiar with
them has seen plenty with gouges and holes poked in them and 300 MPH
tornado propelled missiles will certainly penetrate unless you back that
sheetmetal with a foot of solid cement. Underground there are no tornado
Oh, you could tie it down easily enough.
Penetration and integrity would depend on actual construction and
materials, primarily door connections, etc.
I'm just not sure what their actually built from to judge absolute
survivability. As noted above, Texas A&M has good data/guidelines on
structure requirements and building techniques.
The effects _can_ be designed for, it just takes far more for the truly
extreme event than most folks can comprehend.
A "standard" cargo containers is made from 1/4" reinforced steel plate,
weighs 8,800 pounds, holds up to 67,000 pounds of stuff, and is designed to
be stacked ten or more high.
Containers routinely sustain sixty foot waves moving at 30 knots (which has
got to pack more energy than air moving at 300 mph).
Not much would be likely to penetrate. I'm not sure what A&M uses as
their design requirement otomh. The one difference is the flying
pointy-sticks in the tornado environment not likely seen mid-ocean.
It's that high-velocity projectile that's the penetration danger and it
can have a fairly small cross-sectional area so is more dangerous than
the bigger stuff from that standpoint.
I do remember the 30,000-lb combine ending up 8 miles away at
Greensburg. That's 3X the weight in probably roughly same sail area.
What _can_ happen is indeed truly incredible.
I saw a picture of a 40 foot semi trailer spun in like a drill about
20 feet - with the cab still attached.
Miraculously, when removed, very little damage to the rear of the
I have also personally seen
Wheat straw driven right through a hydro pole.
Pink fiberglass insulation half way through concrete bricks
Earth-berm it, and tie it down with steel beams bolted to telephone
poles stuck in the ground on both sides, like they do with trailers near
the 'beach' in Louisiana. Basically a prefab storm cellar, just above
ground. Put an 'L' berm in front of the door end. with the opening away
from the prevailing wind. Google the Army tech manual for mortar-attack
bunkers in forward areas- that is basically what you are looking for.
They do it with prefab concrete panels and sandbags, and half-bury it.
What kind of "storm?" Refuge from a tornado is way different than safety
from a hurricane.
It's fairly easy to construct something the size of a closet in the corner
of the garage that will withstand anything a hurricane can throw at it
(except, maybe, rising water). I think these can even be reinforced
sufficiently to withstand a tornado.
In tornado country, a perfectly suitable shelter can be built by digging a
hole, covering it with plywood, and putting a layer of sod on top. No walls,
Two things to consider: One, this thing is going to be used to save your
life. Make it as cheap as you can with as flimsy materials as you can find.
Two, you may have to spend several hours in there, so make it cramped, wet,
dark, dirty, mouldy, and smelly.
That shouldn't cost a lot.
Have a septic tank manufacturer nearby? They all occaisionally make a
"leaker" - the concrete doesn't completely fill in one of the corners
etc. They generally have to break them up and scrap them, or sell them
to someone to use as a "bunker"
Bury one and install a larger access hatch and you are all set.
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