Protecting schools and their associated high-occupancy buildings from the most violent tornadoes is the goal of the first approved building code changes based on recommendations from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) technical investigation into the impacts of the deadly tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011.
The new changes, approved at a recent meeting of the International Code Council (ICC), apply to the nation's most tornado-prone regions. Enhanced protection will be required for new school buildings and additions to buildings on existing school campuses, as well as facilities associated with schools where people regularly assemble, such as a gymnasium, theater or community center.
The power of an EF-5 tornado is evident in this photo of a truck wrapped around a utility pole in the aftermath of a May 1999 twister in Oklahoma in which wind speeds of more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) per hour were recorded. New code changes based on recommendations from NIST's Joplin, Mo., tornado study will help protect building occupants in areas where such storms are most likely to occur.
Credit: National Severe Storms Laboratory, NOAA
Under the updated codes, storm shelters must be provided that protect all occupants from storms with wind speeds of 400 kilometers per hour (250 miles per hour), representing the maximum intensity category EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
The area covered by the upgraded codes stretches from northern Texas to central Minnesota and from western Oklahoma to western Pennsylvania. It includes the notorious "Tornado Alley" and "Dixie Alley" regions of the midwestern and southern United States, respectively.
The improved storm shelter requirements will be published in ICC's 2018 International Building Code (IBC) and 2018 International Existing Building Code (IEBC). These are the state-of-the-art model codes used as the basis for building and fire regulations promulgated and enforced by U.S. state and local jurisdictions.
Based on findings from its Joplin study, NIST developed 16 recommendations for improving how buildings and shelters are designed, constructed and maintained in tornado-prone regions, along with improving the emergency communications that warn of imminent threat from tornadoes.
According to Marc Levitan, leader of the NIST team that conducted the Joplin investigation, the new changes to the IBC and IEBC mark the first milestone of the collaborative effort to implement these recommendations.
"Solid progress is being made working with code developers, state and local officials, U.S. agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] and others toward realizing all of the proposed improvements for tornado protection and resilience in our study," Levitan says.
Current efforts, he says, include developing:
NIST's Joplin investigation team members also recently provided their expertise and insight to help FEMA improve guidance on public sheltering strategies and practices in its publication, FEMA P-361, Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms, Third Edition.
Levitan and his colleagues will continue to work with their partners to realize the main goal of the Joplin investigation: nationally accepted standards for building design and construction, public shelters and emergency communications that can significantly reduce deaths and the steep economic costs of property damage caused by tornadoes.
Michael E. Newman | EurekAlert!
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy