LUBBOCK – What’s good for a tornado is good for a hurricane. That’s the case, at least, for in-home shelters proven to withstand tornado-force winds.

Texas Tech wind researchers are advocating the use of these shelters inside homes located in hurricane-prone regions, especially since many of these regions – like Florida – are too heavily populated to allow for proper evacuations.

“Structures that do well as tornado shelters should certainly do well in regions that see a lot of hurricanes,” said Dr. Ernst Kiesling, a professor in Texas Tech’s Department of Civil Engineering. “We are certainly advocating the use of residential shelters in these areas.”

However, Kiesling warned, the shelters should not be placed in flood-prone areas. If used properly, these shelters could ease the burden on crowded traffic corridors as people try to evacuate ahead of hurricanes, Kiesling said, by allowing some residents to remain safely in their houses.

This could be essential since travel is often limited in these areas – especially considering that the uncertainty of storm tracking leads to calls for evacuation from a much larger area than is ultimately required. However, most people tend to resist until the last minute, since evacuation can be inconvenient and costly.

Texas Tech’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center tests the strength of building materials using a wind cannon. The cannon allows simulation of debris hurled by some of the largest tornados seen in the United States. Since winds seen in tornados are often stronger than those seen in hurricanes, these shelters should also provide protection against hurricane-generated gales.

The center has performed dozens of product tests for an international slate of manufacturers and organizations like the Portland Cement Association, The Engineered Wood Association and DuPont.


CONTACT: Ernst Kiesling, professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-3451, ext. 235, or