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tornado question
05-26-2009, 09:14 PM
Post: #1
tornado question
What quadrant of your house is supposed to be the "safest" in a tornado? Seems like I heard it one time, but can't remember.
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05-27-2009, 04:31 AM
Post: #2
tornado question
Wind, IMNSHO I'm not sure that any single quadrant of the house would be safer than any other because tornadoes are very compact storms. I've always read that the safest place to shelter from a tornado in a home that doesn't have a basement is an interior room with an interior door and no windows.

The SW quadrant of a Hurricane is the weakest and the NE quadrant is the strongest.

"The ultimate judge of your swing is the flight of the ball." - Ben Hogan
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05-27-2009, 06:15 AM
Post: #3
tornado question
Thanks, Mac. But I did hear that tornados generally come from a certain direction and there is a corner of the house that is "safer" (ha!) I'll try to find where I read/heard that.
I was unable to have my in-house storm shelter built this year, but I am thinking that during tornado watches, a large truck or SUV pulled into a sturdy garage with the doors and windows closed would be the next best thing. Any thoughts?
Obviously, don't turn the engine on when you're hunkering down inside of it!:wink:
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05-27-2009, 06:22 AM
Post: #4
tornado question
found this...


Myth or Misconception #1 .... The southwest corner of a basement is the safest location during passage of a tornado.

The truth is that the part of the home towards the approaching tornado (often, but not always, the southwest) is the least safe part of the basement, not the safest. This is also true of the above-ground portion of the house. In most tornadoes, many more homes will be shifted than will be blown completely free of a foundation. Homes that are attacked from the southwest tend to shift to the northeast. The unsupported part of the house may then collapse into the basement or pull over part of the foundation, or both. Historically, the few deaths in basements have been caused by collapsed basement walls, houses, and chimneys, rather than by debris that was thrown into the basement from the outside.


For nearly a century, the published conventional wisdom was that the southwest corner of a building, both above and below ground, afforded the best protection. This misconception probably originated from someone's reasoning, rather than from actual observations. They probably assumed that deadly debris would be propelled over the southwest corner and land in the northeast corner.

The idea that it was safe to seek shelter on the side of a house facing the oncoming tornado dates back to at least the first book on tornadoes, the 1887 comprehensive text Tornadoes, by John Park Finley. He placed in italic for emphasis the following remark: "Under no circumstances, whether in a building or in a cellar, ever take a position in a northeast room, in a northeast corner, or an east room, or against an east wall." He also recommended removing the furniture from the west-facing room and closing all windows in the house. This is all incorrect, deadly, and time-wasting advice. It is quite possible that someone has died following it. While relatively few people probably read the book when it was available, the advice was quoted in many newspapers. It is possible that in the limited number of damage surveys that Finley conducted personally, he came upon a grisly scene involving the northeast portion of a poorly constructed house that had fallen over, and it strongly influenced his thinking.

These assumptions went essentially unchallenged until 1966, when Professor Joseph Eagleman of the University of Kansas undertook a survey of destroyed produced by after the Topeka tornado of June 8th. Professor Eagleman's objective study showed that the south side and southwest corners, the direction of approach for the Topeka tornado, were the least safe areas, and the north side of homes were the safest .... both on the first floor and in the basement. He repeated the study after the Lubbock, Texas tornado of May 11, 1970, and the results were even more striking. The southwest portion of the houses were unsafe in 75% of the damaged homes .... double the percentage of unsafe areas in the northeast part of homes. As a general rule, people in basements will escape injury despite the extreme devastation above them. Being under a stairwell, heavy table, or work bench will afford even more protection.

Ignorance of this conventional wisdom, combined with common sense, has saved lives in the past. At the Pacolet Mills near Gainesville, Georgia on June 1, 1903, 550 people ran to the northeast corner of the building as the tornado approached from the southwest. That northeast corner was the only part of the building not destroyed. At least fifty people died in other Gainesville fabric mills on that day, and more than 40 more died in homes near the mills.
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06-01-2009, 04:00 PM
Post: #5
tornado question
Windwatcher Wrote:found this...


Myth or Misconception #1 .... The southwest corner of a basement is the safest location during passage of a tornado.

The truth is that the part of the home towards the approaching tornado (often, but not always, the southwest) is the least safe part of the basement, not the safest. This is also true of the above-ground portion of the house. In most tornadoes, many more homes will be shifted than will be blown completely free of a foundation. Homes that are attacked from the southwest tend to shift to the northeast. The unsupported part of the house may then collapse into the basement or pull over part of the foundation, or both. Historically, the few deaths in basements have been caused by collapsed basement walls, houses, and chimneys, rather than by debris that was thrown into the basement from the outside.


For nearly a century, the published conventional wisdom was that the southwest corner of a building, both above and below ground, afforded the best protection. This misconception probably originated from someone's reasoning, rather than from actual observations. They probably assumed that deadly debris would be propelled over the southwest corner and land in the northeast corner.

The idea that it was safe to seek shelter on the side of a house facing the oncoming tornado dates back to at least the first book on tornadoes, the 1887 comprehensive text Tornadoes, by John Park Finley. He placed in italic for emphasis the following remark: "Under no circumstances, whether in a building or in a cellar, ever take a position in a northeast room, in a northeast corner, or an east room, or against an east wall." He also recommended removing the furniture from the west-facing room and closing all windows in the house. This is all incorrect, deadly, and time-wasting advice. It is quite possible that someone has died following it. While relatively few people probably read the book when it was available, the advice was quoted in many newspapers. It is possible that in the limited number of damage surveys that Finley conducted personally, he came upon a grisly scene involving the northeast portion of a poorly constructed house that had fallen over, and it strongly influenced his thinking.

These assumptions went essentially unchallenged until 1966, when Professor Joseph Eagleman of the University of Kansas undertook a survey of destroyed produced by after the Topeka tornado of June 8th. Professor Eagleman's objective study showed that the south side and southwest corners, the direction of approach for the Topeka tornado, were the least safe areas, and the north side of homes were the safest .... both on the first floor and in the basement. He repeated the study after the Lubbock, Texas tornado of May 11, 1970, and the results were even more striking. The southwest portion of the houses were unsafe in 75% of the damaged homes .... double the percentage of unsafe areas in the northeast part of homes. As a general rule, people in basements will escape injury despite the extreme devastation above them. Being under a stairwell, heavy table, or work bench will afford even more protection.

Ignorance of this conventional wisdom, combined with common sense, has saved lives in the past. At the Pacolet Mills near Gainesville, Georgia on June 1, 1903, 550 people ran to the northeast corner of the building as the tornado approached from the southwest. That northeast corner was the only part of the building not destroyed. At least fifty people died in other Gainesville fabric mills on that day, and more than 40 more died in homes near the mills.
I actually had Dr. Eagleman (years later) as a professor. I missed my chance to see him about a month ago as I was unable to attend a reunion. I think I remember him saying that it was thought the southwest part of the house was the safest because as the house would blow down, it would do so away from you. His contradictory findings were published in a book called, Thunderstorms, Tornadoes and Building Damage, which I still have.
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06-01-2009, 08:30 PM
Post: #6
tornado question
Steve--What about the idea of a home-made tornado shelter, in a large car in a sturdy garage? (brick, high-pitch roofline) Stupid or not? Better than a closet inside?
(My garage is on the south side of my house, door faces south)
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06-01-2009, 09:12 PM
Post: #7
tornado question
Windwatcher Wrote:Steve--What about the idea of a home-made tornado shelter, in a large car in a sturdy garage? (brick, high-pitch roofline) Stupid or not? Better than a closet inside?
(My garage is on the south side of my house, door faces south)
That is a good question, but one that I have no statistical information for. It would seem to me however, that a house would be sturdier then a garage, even with being inside of a car. Being a storm chaser, I am probably not the best person to ask how to avoid one in a shelter. However after just spending 8 days and nearly 3000 miles chasing, I only had a problem with finding one.
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06-02-2009, 05:36 AM
Post: #8
tornado question
Wind, we have been watching tornado stories lately and seeing the aftermath of even some 'smaller' tornados, it doesn't appear to me that there is any safe spot in any building.
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06-02-2009, 05:51 AM
Post: #9
tornado question
Well Damn! I thought my brainstorm would give me a sense of security when the hurricanes come and bring those pesky tornados with them. Oh well, back to the closet with my pup.
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06-02-2009, 06:51 AM
Post: #10
tornado question
southernbelle Wrote:Wind, we have been watching tornado stories lately and seeing the aftermath of even some 'smaller' tornados, it doesn't appear to me that there is any safe spot in any building.
There may be no guaranteed "safe spot" but obviously from the studies cited above, some places are safer then others.
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