Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Increase in storm damage brings call for more stringent standards

09.08.2011
The NSF report this story is based on is available online: http://bit.ly/pZnizp

Researchers from a team funded by the National Science Foundation have examined some of last spring’s massive tornado damage and conclude in a new report that more intensive engineering design and more rigorous, localized construction and inspection standards are needed to reduce property damage and loss of life.

As one of the nation’s most destructive tornado seasons in history begins to wane, and hurricane season approaches its peak, experts are working to determine if old, tried-and-true approaches to residential and small building construction are still adequate, or if it’s time to revisit these issues.

“Modern building codes are not what we would call inadequate, but they are kind of a bare minimum,” said Rakesh Gupta, a professor of wood engineering and mechanics at Oregon State University, and one of the members of the NSF team that traveled to such sites as Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Joplin, Mo. – where a massive EF5 tornado in May killed more than 150 people and caused damage approaching $3 billion.

“Beyond that, in the actual construction process, buildings are often not built precisely to codes, due to inadequate construction work or code enforcement,” he said. “We can do better. The damage didn’t have to be as bad as it was. We can design and build structures more rigorously that could withstand wind forces up to 140-150 miles per hour, which would help them better resist both tornadoes and hurricanes.”

In their research, the scientists and engineers found that even in the most catastrophic tornadoes, the path exposed to the most extreme winds is very narrow. In the Joplin example, buildings less than one-half mile away probably faced winds in the 130 mph range, which often destroyed them because they lacked appropriate fasteners, tie-downs, connectors, or adequate number of sheathing nails.

“Another thing we need to consider more in our building practices is the local risks and situation,” said Arijit Sinha, an OSU professor in the Department of Wood Science and Engineering.

“Just as cities like San Francisco adapt their building codes to consider earthquake risks, many other towns and cities across the nation could be creating local codes to reflect their specific risks from hurricanes, tornadoes, high winds or other concerns,” Sinha said. “A national building code may be convenient, but it isn’t always the best for every single town in the country.”

Among the findings of the new report:

It’s not possible to economically design wood-frame structures that could resist damage from the highest winds in extreme tornado events, such as EF4 or EF5, but irreparable damage from lesser winds could and should be reduced.

Tornadoes and hurricanes apply different types of forces to buildings, and what will adequately protect from one type of storm event isn’t identical to the other. Implementing hurricane-region construction practices in a tornado-prone region is a good start, but not an end solution.

Vertical uplift, one of the special risks from tornadoes, is often not planned for in traditional construction approaches.

Interior closets and bathrooms can provide some protection at lower wind speeds, but more consideration should be given to construction of “safe rooms” that can save lives in major events.

Cost will always be an issue in either new construction or retrofitting of existing structures to better resist these violent storms, the researchers said, but in new construction some of the costs are fairly modest. Thicker plywood sheathing, closer stud spacing such as 12 inches on center, tighter nailing schedules, and more consistent use of inexpensive metal connectors such as “hurricane ties” and anchor bolts could accomplish much to improve safety and reduce damage, Gupta said.

Retrofitting of existing homes is much more costly, but still something many homeowners should consider, he said. And although tornadoes and hurricanes have different types of impacts on buildings, the wind speeds of a moderate tornado and major hurricane are similar.

Even where cities and towns don’t have more stringent building codes, Sinha said, individuals can and probably should have their blueprints or structures reviewed by licensed engineers to plan adequately for damage from hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes or other extreme forces.

For reasons that are not clear, 2011 has been one of the most destructive tornado years in history, even in regions of the Midwest and South that experience these storms with regularity.

One of the largest outbreaks of severe weather in U.S. history occurred on April 27, including a tornado that hit Tuscaloosa County in Alabama, destroying or severely damaging 4,700 homes. The new report was based on lessons learned from that event.

The report was done by a study team supported by the National Science Foundation and the International Associations for Wind Engineering that included researchers from OSU, the University of Florida, University of Alabama, Applied Technology Council, South Dakota State University, and private industry.

About the OSU College of Forestry: For a century, the College of Forestry has been a world class center of teaching, learning and research. It offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs in sustaining ecosystems, managing forests and manufacturing wood products; conducts basic and applied research on the nature and use of forests; and operates 14,000 acres of college forests.

Video of the damage in Joplin, Mo., is available online, both on YouTube and in a high resolution format:

YouTube: http://youtu.be/T6CboNmIqAY
High Resolution: http://youtu.be/T6CboNmIqAY?hd=1

Rakesh Gupta | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.oregonstate.edu

More articles from Architecture and Construction:

nachricht Modular storage tank for tight spaces
16.03.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

nachricht Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice
17.01.2017 | EML European Media Laboratory GmbH

All articles from Architecture and Construction >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>