Geodesic Dome Survives Tornado
April 8, 1998 18:42 PM F-5
A devastating tornado ripped a 30.6 mile long path through Birmingham, Alabama. The towns of Oak Grove, Rock Creek, Concord, Pleasant Grove, Sylvan Springs, and Maytown were some of the towns that were all but destroyed. In the end more than 1000 homes were destroyed, and another 400 or more suffered damage to 50% or more of their structure. The final death from this terrible event totaled 32 persons.
After the horrible tornado season this spring, I am not only dismayed at the terrible loss of life but shocked at the destructive power that nature is hurling at us this year. Up here in Canada it is flooding, in Japan it was the 9.5 earthquake, while down south in the mid western states it has been one of the worst tornado seasons on record.
Geodesic Dome Tested to 200mph
A steel framed geodesic dome was wind tunnel tested and survived sustained winds of 200 mph. Now understand that this isn’t a real life test, and I pray you never have to go through that. However the result of the wind tunnel test and at least the one real life example quoted above, is that geodesic greenhouses, domes, and houses are able to consistently withstand wind speeds that would destroy a convention home.
What To Do To Make Your Geodesic Dome Safer
First make sure your geodesic greenhouse, dome or house is very securely fastened together. You may even want to consider a monolithic dome if ultimate strength is your goal. Once your dome is strong then put it on a properly constructed reinforced concrete slab.
In order to further secure your building make tapered piers going well below grade under the edge of your slab to withstand the lifting force of high winds. Make sure all your concrete is tied together with rebar and your site is well drained, as well.
Also keep trees away, small or light around your geodesic greenhouse to reduce damage from windblown debris or even snow toppling trees onto your dome. Reducing trees and shrubs around your home also makes you much less vulnerable to wildfire, if you are in a dry area.
The Bottom Line — For You, Your Family, And Your Geodesic Greenhouse
If you live in a storm prone area, be it hurricane, tornado, typhoon or cyclone please have a safe refuge for you and your family. Your dome will most likely survive if it is built well and on a strong foundation, but make sure you have an ultra safe refuge for you and your loved ones. Keep at least 7 days of food and water, clothes, blankets, matches, toiletries, a flashlight, and a wind up radio in your emergency shelter.
If all goes well you will never have to use it. However if you do have to, then when you come out after the disaster has passed you will most likely see your dome still standing.
My apologies for the depressing topic today but I felt called to write something after the horrible events in Joplin Missouri this spring.