Above Ground Versus Below Ground Tornado Shelters

Above ground tornado shelters

Storms are not as mystifying to us as they once were. We now know that storms are less “acts of God” that can occur at any moment, completely unpredictable — and more weather patterns that we can not only predict but quite often track with significant accuracy. Luckily, storms don’t kill as many people as they once did. But part of the reason why storms are no longer as deadly as they used to be is the use of storm shelters. Storm shelters have been in use for a good while, and have kept thousands of people safe, ostensibly saving lives. But the fact is that the storm shelters we once used — below ground storm shelters — are nowhere near as effective as above ground storm shelters. Above ground shelters are, for a number of reasons, both preferred and recommended by experts. Yet many remain unaware of this recent consensus, and continue to use outdated shelters. While in the case of a tornado any shelter is better than none, below ground shelters can actually endanger lives rather than protect them in some cases. Certainly, they pale in comparison to above ground shelters, and can even be more difficult to build and access. Let’s look into the reasons why we need shelter from tornados, as well as why above ground shelters are the preferred means of protection against storms.

Tornados: Why We Should Fear Them

Often, we joke about weathermen exaggerating regarding the severity of a storm. It may seem that a storm is never as bad as we think it’s going to be. When it comes to tornados, they are very frequently just as bad as forecasts predict; and even minor tornados can do a lot of damage. Essentially, a tornado is a funnel of whirling winds extending from a thunderstorm — and these winds can reach speeds of up to 300 miles per hour, making it very difficult for people to prepare for them. When a tornado goes on the warpath, its damage can extend in a path over one mile wide and 50 miles long. At times, the funnel clouds of tornados last mere seconds or minutes before dissipating, but on average they last around 10 minutes. With that being said, cyclones have been known to last for over an hour in rare occasions. It’s not the length of the tornado that matters, but rather its force — a strong tornado can wreak significant havoc in a matter of minutes.

Storm Shelters: Why We Need Them

Some storms can hypothetically be “outrun” with enough warning. Hurricanes, for example, are often predicted well ahead of time, with many driving away from the coast and to safety thanks to evacuation warnings. One of the reasons why this is more difficult with tornados is that often, once they’ve really started, people are recommended to stay put. Driving in the path of a tornado is extremely dangerous, and should not be attempted by anyone. But if you stay put, you should not be in a regular structure. Tornados can decimate houses and even larger buildings, and as such a storm shelter is not a want but a need in tornado-heavy areas. A storm shelter allows people to wait out the storm for as long as possible. If large enough, an above ground tornado shelter can also hold goods such as water, which means that if the storm keeps an area unsafe for a significant amount of time, people can stay healthy.

Above Ground Shelters: Why They’ve Become Preferred Models

So, why is it that people prefer above ground shelters to below ground shelters? An issue that always existed with below ground shelters is the risk of cave ins, or for that matter of the doors being blocked with debris and trapping people inside. These shelters simply cannot withstand the wind and rain, and all that comes with tornados the way above ground shelters can. Luckily, above ground shelters are now offered by many providers, can protect families for years to come.

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