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Old 02-15-2012, 01:25 PM
 
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Assuming 1996 construction or later for each of the above:
- three level SFH, lowest level is walk-out
- three level townhome, lowest level is walk-out
- lower levels (1 or 2 or 3) of a highrise
- upper levels (4 or above) of a highrise
which do you think offers the best overall tornado protection.

Do highrises get built with steel, and so offer better protection? In highrises, is the shelter zone in the lobby or 1st floor level?

Does the nature of townhouse constuction (4 or 5 of them all together) offer any more structural protection? I am assuming townhouses get built with wood (not steel), correct?

Feel free to make educated guesses, but let us know your level of expetise on the topic! Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-15-2012, 01:27 PM
 
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One more thing:
Does a SFH with a half basement offer better protection because of the partial nature of the basement?

Does a townhouse in the middle of a pack of 5 offer any more protection thatn one at the end?
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Old 02-15-2012, 01:32 PM
 
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I'd say the high rise.

A tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta a few years ago, right in the middle of everything. There were a lot of broken windows, but nothing collapsed. If you live in a modern high rise made of steel, I would say that is the best place to be so long as you can be in a place where you are shielded from flying glass.

Townhomes and houses are made of toothpicks. Just look at any recent tornado video and you will see that they get completely obliterated when taking direct tornado hits. If you are in either of those and suffer a direct hit, you have zero chance. I don't think basements in Georgia help that much (maybe a little?) because they aren't true cellars, they are partially above ground basements.
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Old 02-15-2012, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Mableton, GA USA (NW Atlanta suburb, 4 miles OTP)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
I'd say the high rise.

A tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta a few years ago, right in the middle of everything. There were a lot of broken windows, but nothing collapsed. If you live in a modern high rise made of steel, I would say that is the best place to be so long as you can be in a place where you are shielded from flying glass.

Townhomes and houses are made of toothpicks. Just look at any recent tornado video and you will see that they get completely obliterated when taking direct tornado hits. If you are in either of those and suffer a direct hit, you have zero chance. I don't think basements in Georgia help that much (maybe a little?) because they aren't true cellars, they are partially above ground basements.
Our house has a half-basement (the garage is part of the bottom story), but most of the basement portion is almost completely underground because it's built into a hill. The fact that the hill is to our west is also helpful, I think, since funnels tend to travel in a northeasterly direction.
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Old 02-15-2012, 10:14 PM
 
Location: West Cobb County, GA (Atlanta metro)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
I'd say the high rise.

A tornado ripped through downtown Atlanta a few years ago, right in the middle of everything. There were a lot of broken windows, but nothing collapsed. If you live in a modern high rise made of steel, I would say that is the best place to be so long as you can be in a place where you are shielded from flying glass.
And to clarify, if you are in an INTERIOR part of the condo when it hits. When the downtown tornado hit, there was furniture on the ground that was literally sucked out of a couple of buildings when their primary windows shattered. A couple of the news reporters had comments that had this happened in the middle of the night, a number of people would have been in the beds that wound up on street level later. I'm not a fan at all of the newer building style where condos are built with windows that are "storefront" style (floor to ceiling). I much prefer a knee-wall and traditional window cut-out for this reason.

My favorite combination - a 4-side brick home with a basement that's mostly or all underground, impact resistant film on the windows in the bedrooms, and a working weather radio next to the bed.
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Old 02-16-2012, 04:32 AM
 
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I'll add that I don't consider the threat of tornados to be great enough to factor into my selection of a home. They happen fairly infrequently here (relative to some other areas of the country), and are typically of the weaker variety, so I wouldn't let them impact my decision on what type of home to live in. While a high-rise might be safer than a wood-framed home, there are plenty of compromises to high-rise living that far outweigh the perceived added safety, IMO.
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Old 02-16-2012, 12:18 PM
 
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Also, it is worth noting that modern radar can generally give you 10-15 minutes of warning for an impending tornado. In most cases, that is enough time to get to some kind of building that is at least a little better fortified, even if it means driving to your local Kroger.

The problem is when they happen at 2am, which does occur from time to time.
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Old 02-16-2012, 12:36 PM
 
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High rises are the safest because A) tornadoes rarely hit areas that high rises sit due to the lack of flat, open land that tornadoes thrive in and B) high rises are built using much stronger materials than houses. Glass windows are the most dangerous items in high rises being hit with strong winds so as long as you stay away from them (say, in the bathroom) or shield yourself from them with a mattress, you should be ok.
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Old 02-16-2012, 03:34 PM
 
Location: Mableton, GA USA (NW Atlanta suburb, 4 miles OTP)
11,319 posts, read 21,892,927 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATLTJL View Post
Also, it is worth noting that modern radar can generally give you 10-15 minutes of warning for an impending tornado. In most cases, that is enough time to get to some kind of building that is at least a little better fortified, even if it means driving to your local Kroger.

The problem is when they happen at 2am, which does occur from time to time.
That's why it's nice to be close enough to a storm siren that it wakes you up, and important (if that isn't enough) to have a weather radio with an alarm.

Tornados aren't that common here (the metro gets hit every few years), but they seem to be a lot more flexible about when they can appear than I was used to before moving here. January, July, daytime, nighttime... Doesn't seem to matter.
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Old 02-16-2012, 04:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atlantagreg30127 View Post
A couple of the news reporters had comments that had this happened in the middle of the night, a number of people would have been in the beds that wound up on street level later. I'm not a fan at all of the newer building style where condos are built with windows that are "storefront" style (floor to ceiling). I much prefer a knee-wall and traditional window cut-out for this reason.
Are you saying you wouldn't live in a condo with floor to ceiling windows because you're afraid of being sucked out by a tornado? That is an absolutely bizarre thing to be afraid of. I can't find one documented case of a person ever being sucked out of a high-rise by a tornado. Even when an F5 directly hit downtown Lubbock in 1970, nobody in any of the highrises was killed. Dozens of people in single family homes were killed. And obviously in the Atlanta tornado from a few years ago nobody in any of the highrises was killed.

A highrise is by far the safest building to be in during a tornado.
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