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Storm Shelters for Sale – Storm Shelters Huntsville AL

Storm Shelters for Sale - Storm Shelters Huntsville AL

Storm Shelters for Sale - Storm Shelters Huntsville AL

Huntsville, Alabama is #1 in the nation but it's not an honor that is desired or appreciated. And one that suggests storm shelters Huntsville Al would be a wise investment for homeowners in the region, and that many might be searching for storm shelters for sale from Safe-T-Shelter with the recent designation.

The Huntsville / Madison County area has been rated No. 1 in a weather.com ranking of the top tornado cities in the country. Birmingham, AL is listed as No. 3 on the list and Tuscaloosa, AL No. 4. The list was created by Dr. Greg Forbes, a top tornado expert for The Weather Channel. The weather.com report also highlights an interesting shift in the nation's most tornado-prone areas. While the plains states of Kansas and Oklahoma are considered by most to be tornado alley, the top four cities are all in the Deep South - with Jackson, Miss., sliding in at No. 2 among the four Alabama cities. Other Deep South cities on the list include Atlanta at No. 8 and Nashville at No. 10.

The story explains in great detail that, "Huntsville lies in the Tennessee Valley, surrounded by the hills of the Cumberland Plateau. It also lies within Dixie Alley, an area which is prone to violent, long-track tornadoes."Describing Birmingham, the website stated, "Images from Birmingham and Tuscaloosa in 2011 are burned into the public's memory. A massive EF-4 multi-vortex tornado ripped across the region. Dozens of cameras captured the monster twister as it ripped through both cities."According to the research, tornadoes have tracked 1,520 miles across Madison County (Huntsville AL) since 1962 - a measure qualified, to include a 75-mile radius around Huntsville, Alabama, which would stretch into surrounding counties.It highlights the nine 2011 tornadoes that touched down in Madison County and killed nine people as well as the 1989 tornado that obliterated Airport Road and killed 21 people.

That being said, tornado season is here, and that means that much of the country is at risk of severe weather for many months to come. The Spring is when most people become aware of the threat of tornadoes and with that comes increased interest in tornado storm shelters and tornado safe rooms. With a severe weather outbreak often on the horizon, below is a list of "Tips" to remember when a tornado watch or warning is in effect for your community.

Before diving into the list, Safe-T-Shelter specializes in steel safe rooms, and while we once designed, created, and installed underground storm shelters, we no longer advise clients to make investments in underground storm shelters, due to the technology advancements that now make our above ground steel storm shelters more safe and with additional benefits of ease of accessibility, cost, and installation.

A tornado safe room is a hardened structure specifically designed to meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criteria and provide near-absolute protection in extreme weather events, including tornadoes and hurricanes. Near-absolute protection means that, based on our current knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, the occupants of a safe room built in accordance with FEMA guidance will have a very high probability of being protected from injury or death.To be considered a FEMA safe room, the structure must be designed and constructed to the guidelines specified in FEMA P-320, Taking Shelter from the Storm: Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business and FEMA P-361, Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms.

Tornado Shelters and Storm Shelters

Now for your 7 Tips to Survive a Tornado1. Determine a safe place to ride out the storm, preferably in advance. And a steel above ground storm shelter is your best option.

1) Do you live in a mobile home? Get out. Driving in a car? Get home as quickly as you can, and if that's not possible, get to a sturdy building as quickly and safely as possible.

2) Get away from windows and if you don't have a steel safe room, get underground if possible.Regardless of where you're taking shelter, it should be as far away from windows as possible. Even if a tornado doesn't hit, wind or hail could shatter windows, and if you're nearby, you could get hurt.If you do not have a basement move to the innermost room or hallway on the lowest floor of your home. The goal is to put as many walls between yourself and the outside world. When homes are destroyed by tornadoes, often, the outer walls have been demolished, but a few inner rooms are somewhat intact.

3) If a tornado appears while you're on the road ...You should make every effort to find a safe building for shelter. If you can't find one, NEVER stop under an overpass. Instead, find a ditch, get down and cover your head. Get as far from your vehicle as you can to prevent the possibility of it being moved and dropped on you.

4) Put on your shoes – and a bike, helmet (bike, motorcycle, etc.)If you're at home and severe weather is hitting your home, prepare for the worst. If your house is damaged by a tornado, you could end up walking through debris that's riddled with nails, glass shards and splintered wood. The best way to ensure your shoes aren't scattered is to put on a pair before the storm comes.If you own a bike helmet, be sure to put it on during a severe storm. It could save you from life-threatening head trauma if your home suffers a direct hit.

Storm Shelters for Sale - Storm Shelters Huntsville AL

5) Keep your pets on a leash or in a carrier, and bring them with you. They're family too, so make sure they go to a safe place with you. Make sure their collar is on for identification purposes, and keep them leashed if they're not in a crate. If your home is damaged by a tornado, it might not be familiar to them anymore, and they might wander.

6) Don't leave your home and try to drive away from a tornadoIf you made it home, stay there. Tornadoes can shift their path, and even if you think you're directly in the line of the storm, being inside shelter is safer than being inside a car. Traffic could keep you from getting out of the storm's path, or the tornado could change directions quickly.

7) Understand the severe weather terms

Severe thunderstorm watch: Conditions are conducive to the development of severe thunderstorms in and around the watch area. These storms produce hail of ¾ inch in diameter and/or wind gusts of at least 58 mph.

Severe thunderstorm warning: Issued when a severe thunderstorm has been observed by spotters or indicated on radar, and is occurring or imminent in the warning area. These warnings usually last for a period of 30 to 60 minutes.

Tornado watch: Conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms and multiple tornadoes in and around the watch area. People in the affected areas are encouraged to be vigilant in preparation for severe weather.

Tornado warning: Spotters have sighted a tornado or one has been indicated on radar, and is occurring or imminent in the warning area. When a tornado warning has been issued, people in the affected area are strongly encouraged to take cover immediately.

Tornado Warning Huntsville Alabama

The two basic types of storm shelters are underground storm shelters or above ground storm shelters.

No one has ever been killed in an above ground storm shelter or safe room or underground storm shelter that has been proven to be compliant with the guidelines set by FEMA.

Determining what type of tornado shelter is best for you is primarily based on personal preference. In order to help you find the storm shelter that meets your specific needs here are some helpful tips:

Best steel storm shelter for accessibility: Above ground safe rooms are the most optimal for accessibility. There are no steps to navigate therefore safe rooms can be easily accessed by those with mobility issues. Above ground steel Safe rooms with wheelchair accessible doors are readily available. They are perfect for those who are handicapped and for the elderly. If you are considering a long term solution, you may want to consider an above ground steel storm shelter or above ground steel safe room. As you age, or if something were to happen to hinder your mobility, you could always access your safe room easily.

Best storm shelter for convenience: Any shelter that can be installed inside your home is going to be ideal for convenience. If you are building a new home, any room in your home can be reinforced and used as a safe room. Pre-manufactured steel safe rooms / pre-manufactured steel storm shelters or prefab steel storm shelters / prefab steel safe rooms can be installed in the garage. If you are not able to have a tornado shelter installed inside your home then an outdoor shelter installed as close to the home as possible is the best solution. Convenience is key when you have to seek shelter immediately, and navigated pounding hail, rain, and/or debris is something you might have to deal with when running to your outdoor steel storm shelter.

Garage Storm Shelter Best storm shelter for longevity: Above ground steel storm shelters or above ground steel safe rooms take the cake when it comes to longevity. Over time concrete will become brittle. As the ground settles the concrete will also crack which will result in leaks. Fiberglass shelters are prone to fiberglass rot over an extended period of time. Steel is strong and extremely durable. Rust is eliminated if the shelter is painted properly and all surfaces exposed to the soil or water are coated with an epoxy.

If you are looking for a shelter that will last a lifetime, then a steel storm shelter from Safe-T-Shelter is your best option.

Best storm shelter for safety: As mentioned earlier in this article, “There’s no one authority to tell you what the best storm shelter is, nor can the federal government endorse a specific type of storm shelter as being ‘the best.’ To assess a shelters safety you want to make sure the shelter meets all of the standards set forth by FEMA as published in the FEMA P-320 document. Every storm shelter manufacturer designs their shelter differently and constructs the shelter of different materials. Each shelter should be assessed separately to ensure safety. For instance, all steel shelters are not equally safe. There are steel shelters that are manufactured with varying degrees of metal thickness, different door designs with varying locking mechanisms and hinges, and different ventilation systems. Each component should be assessed to ensure the shelter is constructed according to the guidelines set by FEMA. It is also important to note that there is no governing agency which regulates to the storm shelter industry. The standards set by FEMA are considered to be “guidelines” and are therefore voluntary for manufactures to follow. The consumer is ultimately responsible for ensuring the shelter they purchase is safe. Most people do not realize the storm shelter industry is unregulated and tend to take most manufactures at the their word when they claim they are “FEMA approved”. FEMA does not “approve” any shelters. They only set “guidelines”. The main components of a shelter that should be examined are the thickness of the material used to construct the body of the shelter, the door components, how the shelter is secured, and the ventilation system. These recommendations come from decades of protecting communities, businesses, and homeowners. Safe-T-Shelter has proven longevity in the industry, tests every shelter, and builds storm shelters and safe rooms to the top standards with the best materials and the best technology. Not to mention at extremely affordable pricing with financing available. If you are in search of Storm Shelters for Sale or Storm Shelters Huntsville AL, Safe-T-Shelter should be your first call at: 1-800-462-3648.

Storm Shelters for Sale - Storm Shelters Huntsville AL
Tornado Shelters and Storm Shelters

Science Suggests More Active Tornadoes than Ever Before-Tornado Shelters are More Important than Ever

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Tornado Shelters, More Important than Ever

While there isn’t a long-term trend in the number of U.S. tornadoes stronger than EF0, several recent studies suggest the time distribution of those tornadoes and their tendency to cluster in outbreaks may be changing.  And more activity means having a plan in place to survive a storm is more important than ever.  And luckily, tornado shelters are less expensive and easier to install than in years past.

EF1 Tornado Days and Active Tornado Days

Fewer Tornado Days, But More Active Days

When eliminating EF0 tornadoes from yearly counts, which have steadily risen over the past few decades due to more extensive spotter networks, the implementation of Doppler radar, and advanced technology such as smartphones and social media, there is essentially no long-term yearly trend in the raw number of EF1 and stronger tornadoes.

However, the number of days with at least one EF1+ tornado in the U.S. has fallen from an average of 150 such days in the early 1970s to around 100 days in the first decade of the 21st century, according to an October 2014 study in the journal Science.

However, the study by noted tornado researchers Dr. Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory, Greg Carbin of NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, and Dr. Patrick Marsh, also of NOAA/SPC, found the number of days with a large number of tornadoes is actually increasing over time.

“The frequency of days with more than 30 EF1+ (tornadoes) has increased from 0.5 to 1 days per year in the 1960s and 1970s to 3 days per year over the past decade,” says the Brooks et al. study.

In essence, we have fewer days with tornadoes, but are packing more of them into the days we have. “Approximately 20 percent of the annual tornadoes in the most recent decade have occurred on the three biggest days of each year,” says the Brooks et al. study.  So knowing what to do when severe weather strikes, and ideally, having a residential storm shelter, a community storm shelter easily accessible in your city, or a corporate storm shelter or commercial tornado shelter at your business or school is more important than ever.

Another recent study by Dr. James Elsner not only found a similar clustering of tornadoes into fewer days, but also a spatial clustering of tornadoes on those very active days.

“It appears that the risk of big tornado days with densely concentrated clusters of tornadoes is increasing,” Elsner says in the July 2014 study.
Large Swings in Monthly, Yearly Numbers

These clusters cause more damage in a defined area.  So instead of being concerned about a single rotation, and potentially feeling relieved after a tornado passes, it is extremely important to be more vigilant and aware of other tornadoes in the area.  Residential tornado shelters and community storm shelters are the best option to protect yourself from these unpredictable storms.

For only the second time since 1950, the first three weeks of March 2015 passed without a single tornado anywhere in the U.S.
Yet as recently as 2011, almost 1,700 tornadoes ripped across the nation, including 349 tornadoes in a four-day outbreak from April 25-28, the costliest tornado outbreak in U.S. history.

While year-to-year variability has long been prevalent in U.S. tornado counts, a 2014 study by Dr. Michael Tippett found volatility, a term he uses for variability in tornado counts, has increased since 2000.

Furthermore, the Brooks et al. study found the tendency for more monthly extreme highs and lows in EF1+ tornado counts in recent years.

“Excluding the zero-tornado months, there are more extreme months in the most recent 15 years of the database (1999-2013) than in the first 45 years,” says Brooks et al. 2014.

In other words, we’ve seen extreme high monthly tornado counts (758 tornadoes in April 2011, for example) and extreme low monthly tornado counts (March 2015, for example) more often over the past 15 years, a trend that may continue.

Of course, low tornado count years do not preclude significant tornadoes or tornado outbreaks. Despite the lowest three-year tornado count on record from 2012-2014, we still had destructive outbreaks in March 2012, in May 2013 (Moore and El Reno, Oklahoma), and April 2014 (Vilonia, Arkansas).

When Tornado Season Shifts Into Gear, Skewing Earlier in the Year-The Time to Install an Above Ground Tornado Shelter is NOW

Tornadoes can occur any time of year the overlap of sufficient moisture, atmospheric instability — relatively cold, dry air aloft overlying warm, humid air near the Earth’s surface — and a strong source of lift such as a warm front, dryline, strong jet-stream disturbance occur.

Because of that, it’s difficult to define a tornado season on a national scale as distinctly as, say, a hurricane season.

However, Brooks et al. tracked as a metric the occurrence of the year’s 50th EF1+ tornado to get a sense of whether the timing of the ramp-up in U.S. tornadoes typically seen in spring is changing.

While the long-term average date (March 22) hasn’t changed, Brooks et al. found a marked increase in the number of “late-start” and “early-start” years since the late 1990s. The four latest starts and five of the ten earliest starts to the season all occurred in the 1999-2013 period. These range from late January (1999 and 2008) to late April (2002, 2003, 2004 and 2010).

In essence, even the date the season kicks into a higher gear is becoming more volatile-so don’t wait to install your tornado shelter.

Climate Change Role?

Now, the toughest question: Is climate change playing a role in the increasing variability of the nation’s tornadoes?

The short answer is, possibly.

The challenge in answering this question is linking short-fuse events like tornadoes and tornado outbreaks to long-term changes in atmospheric parameters generally conducive for severe thunderstorms, such as instability and wind shear.

Studies by Dr. Jeff Trapp and Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh, among others, suggest atmospheric instability, driven by increased moisture, is expected to be greater in a warming climate. However, wind shear, crucial for the formation of supercells which can produce the strongest tornadoes, may diminish overall, but may feature more days with higher wind shear.

Therefore, the overall environment may be more conducive for severe thunderstorms (with large hail and damaging winds), but it remains unclear whether the number of tornadoes or even strong tornadoes would necessarily rise in a warming world.

This brings up an interesting possibility, a seasonal outlook for severe weather, similar to hurricane season outlooks.
“I suspect that ultimately knowing if a severe weather season will be above, below, or near normal would be important for reinsurance portfolios as an increasing amount of money is spent on hail and wind claims,” said Dr. Patrick Marsh from NOAA/SPC.

The best advice is don’t think that you can predict the severity of tornado season or even when it begins, and definitely do not wait until after a storm strikes to realize the need to purchase a storm shelter.  Tornado shelters of all sizes are more affordable than ever and Safe-T-Shelter even partners with local credit unions for financing.  Everyone deserves the right to protect their family from unpredictable storms.  So whether it is a residential storm shelter, a community storm shelter, a commercial storm shelter or a corporate storm shelter, Safe-T-Shelter can help, and our 20+ years experience means you can have confidence in our products and our longevity.

Tornado Shelters and Storm Shelters

Tornado Safety Questions and Answers

Tornado Safety Questions and Answers

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Storm Shelters, Safe Rooms, and Tornado Shelters

A reinforced safe room (or above-ground tornado shelter) is as good as an underground shelter. Residential Safe rooms are specially-designed reinforced tornado shelters built into homes, schools and other buildings. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (or FEMA), in close cooperation with experts in wind engineering and tornado damage, has developed detailed guidelines for constructing a safe room and the storm shelters built by Safe-T-Shelter meet or exceed those specifications.

 

Tornado Safety Questions and Answers from NOAA:

 

What should I do in case of a tornado?

That depends on where you are. This list of tornado safety tips covers most situations.

 

What is a tornado watch?

A tornado watch defines a cluster of counties where tornadoes and other kinds of severe weather are possible in the next several hours. It does not mean tornadoes are imminent, just that you need to be alert, and to be prepared to go to safe shelter if tornadoes do happen or a warning is issued. This is the time to turn on local TV or radio, turn on and set the alarm switch on your weather radio, make sure you have ready access to safe shelter, and make your friends and family aware of the potential for tornadoes in the area. The Storm Prediction Center issues tornado and severe thunderstorm watches; here is an example.

 

What is a tornado warning?

A tornado warning means that a tornado has been spotted, or that Doppler radar indicates a thunderstorm circulation which can spawn a tornado. When a tornado warning is issued for your town or county, take immediate safety precautions. local NWS offices issue tornado warnings.

 

Do mobile homes attract tornadoes?

Of course not. It may seem that way, considering most tornado deaths occur in them, and that some of the most graphic reports of tornado damage come from mobile home communities. The reason for this is that mobile homes are, in general, much easier for a tornado to damage and destroy than well-built houses and office buildings. A brief, relatively weak tornado which may have gone undetected in the wilderness, or misclassified as severe straight-line thunderstorm winds while doing minor damage to sturdy houses, can blow a mobile home apart. Historically, mobile home parks have been reliable indicators, not attractors, of tornadoes. Mobile home communities are also great places for our community shelters to be installed.  If you live in a mobile home community, please tell the owner of the mobile home park to contact Safe-T-Shelter through our website www.stormshelter.com for a free cost estimate for a community shelter.

 

Long ago, I was told to open windows to equalize pressure. Now I have heard that’s a bad thing to do. Which is right?

Opening the windows is absolutely useless, a waste of precious time, and can be very dangerous. Don’t do it. You may be injured by flying glass trying to do it. And if the tornado hits your home, it will blast the windows open anyway.

 

I’ve seen a video of people running under a bridge to ride out a tornado. Is that safe?

Absolutely not! Stopping under a bridge to take shelter from a tornado is a very dangerous idea, for several reasons:

Deadly flying debris can still be blasted into the spaces between bridge and grade, and impaled in any people hiding there.
Even when strongly gripping the girders (if they exist), people may be blown loose, out from under the bridge and into the open–possibly well up into the tornado itself. Chances for survival are not good if that happens.
The bridge itself may fail, peeling apart and creating large flying objects, or even collapsing down onto people underneath. The structural integrity of many bridges in tornado winds is unknown–even for those which may look sturdy.
Whether or not the tornado hits, parking on traffic lanes is illegal and dangerous to yourself and others. It creates a potentially deadly hazard for others, who may plow into your vehicle at full highway speeds in the rain, hail, and/or dust.
Also, it can trap people in the storm’s path against their will, or block emergency vehicles from saving lives.
The people in that infamous video were extremely fortunate not to have been hurt or killed. They were actually not inside the tornado vortex itself, but instead in a surface inflow jet–a small belt of intense wind flowing into the base of the tornado a few dozen yards to their south. Even then, flying debris could have caused serious injury or death. More recently, on 3 May 1999, two people were killed and several others injured outdoors in Newcastle and Moore OK, when a violent tornado blew them out from under bridges on I-44 and I-35. Another person was killed that night in his truck, which was parked under a bridge. For more information, meteorologist Dan Miller of NWS Duluth has assembled an online slide presentation about this problem.

 

So if I’m in a car, which is supposed to be very unsafe, and shouldn’t get under a bridge, what can I do?

Vehicles are notorious as death traps in tornadoes, because they are easily tossed and destroyed. Either leave the vehicle for sturdy shelter or drive out of the tornado’s path. When the traffic is jammed or the tornado is bearing down on you at close range, your only option may be to park safely off the traffic lanes, get out and find a sturdy building for shelter, if possible. If not, lie flat in a low spot, as far from the road as possible (to avoid flying vehicles). However, in open country, the best option is to escape if the tornado is far away. If the traffic allows, and the tornado is distant, you probably have time to drive out of its path. Watch the tornado closely for a few seconds compared to a fixed object in the foreground (such as a tree, pole, or other landmark). If it appears to be moving to your right or left, it is not moving toward you. Still, you should escape at right angles to its track: to your right if it is moving to your left, and vice versa–just to put more distance between you and its path. If the tornado appears to stay in the same place, growing larger or getting closer–but not moving either right or left–it is headed right at you. You must take shelter away from the car or get out of its way fast! If the tornado starts to hit your car, get as low as you can while staying in your seatbelt, leaning down and away from the windows and windshield as far as possible.

 

I have a basement, and my friend said to go to the southwest corner in a tornado. Is that good?

Not necessarily. The SW corner is no safer than any other part of the basement, because walls, floors and furniture can collapse (or be blown) into any corner. The “safe southwest corner” is an old myth based on the belief that, since tornadoes usually come from the SW, debris will preferentially fall into the NE side of the basement. There are several problems with this concept, including:

Tornadoes are mostly circular, so the damaging wind may blow from any direction; and
Tornadoes themselves may arrive from any direction.
In a basement, the safest place is under a sturdy workbench, mattress or other such protection–and out from under heavy furniture or appliances resting on top of the floor above.

 

What is a safe room?

So-called “safe rooms” are reinforced small rooms built in the interior of a home, fortified by concrete and/or steel to offer extra protection against tornadoes, hurricanes and other severe windstorms. They can be built in a basement, or if no basement is available, on the ground floor. In existing homes, interior bathrooms or closets can be fortified into “safe rooms” also. FEMA has more details online. Those who have safe rooms, or any other kind of tornado shelter, should register them with the local fire department to help with rescue in case the entrance(s) are blocked by debris.  If your home does not have a residential storm shelter or safe room, contact us for a free quote.  We also offer low or no interest financing if needed to ensure all those that would like to protect themselves from a potential storm, are able to do so.  You can contact us through our website here (www.stormshelter.com) or at our local or 800# listed above at the top of each page.

 

How can building codes help, or hurt, tornado safety?

Building codes vary greatly across the country, not only from state to state but even from place to place in one county. Codes also have changed over time so that different ages of housing stock in the same community can have different legal standards of strength. Enforcement of codes also can be highly variable, both over time and from place to place. Even the strictest codes won’t help without rigorous enforcement. The bottom line: if you buy an existing house or business structure, you cannot fully know its tornado resistance without knocking holes in wall paneling and exposing areas such as wall-foundation attachments, wall-roof connections and (for multi-story structures) internal attachments from one level to another. The best bet for existing stock may be to retrofit or add on a tornado shelter of some sort, depending on your needs and finances. For new construction, the most tornado-ready codes require, among other things: anchor bolts with nuts and washers attached (connecting foundation to floor plate), strong ties (a.k.a. hurricane clips) connecting floor plate to wall studs and wall studs to roof, and use of straight nails or screws for other connections, not cut nails. If you are considering new construction, please check with your local building-regulation agency, demand above-code work to the level you can afford, and directly monitor your builder’s subcontractors at those crucial early stages to ensure compliance with your own higher standards. NIST has recommended raising standards nationwide, based on their study of the Joplin tornado from 2011.

 

What about community tornado shelters?

Community tornado shelters are excellent ideas for apartment complexes, schools, mobile home parks, factories, office complexes and other facilities where large groups of people live, work or study. FEMA has some excellent design and construction guidance for these kinds of shelters; and a licensed engineer can help customize them to the needs of your facility.  We offer community storm shelters for businesses, or communities alike.  If you are interested in a no obligation cost estimate, please contact us here through our website, or call us during normal business hours.  With over 21 years of experience, and our shelters surviving many direct hits with 0 fatalities, you can count on our product and the quality of our service.  We would love to help keep you and your community or business safe.  We have custom and prefab tornado shelters for sale of all sizes.

 

What about tornado safety in sports stadiums or outdoor festivals?

Excellent question–and a very, very disturbing one to many meteorologists and event planners. Tornadoes have passed close to such gatherings on a few occasions, including a horse race in Omaha on 6 May 1975 and a crowded dog track in West Memphis AR on 14 December 1987. A supercell without a tornado hit a riverside festival in Ft. Worth in 1995, catching over 10,000 people outdoors and bashing many of them with hail bigger than baseballs. Tornadoes have hit the football stadium for the NFL Tennessee Titans, and the basketball arena for the NBA Utah Jazz. Fortunately, they were both nearly empty of people at the time. There is the potential for massive death tolls if a stadium or fairground is hit by a tornado during a concert, festival or sporting event, even with a warning in effect. Fans may never know about the warning; and even if they do, mass disorder could result in casualties even if the tornado doesn’t hit. Stadium, race track and festival managers should work with local emergency management officials to develop a plan for tornado emergencies–both for crowd safety during the watch and warning stages, and (similar to a terrorism plan) for dealing with mass casualties after the tornado.

 

I am a school administrator, and I don’t know where to start with developing a safety plan. Can you help?

Gladly. Every school is different, so a safety plan which works fine for one may not be well-suited for another. There is a website with preparedness tips for school administrators which can provide helpful tips in devising a safety plan. These strategies can be adapted for nursing homes, dorms, barracks and similar structures as well.  Please contact us for a free no obligation cost estimate to provide you with a community storm shelter to protect your school (business, or community).  With over 21 years of experience and with many direct hits to our shelters, we have never had a failure or a lost life.  We would love to help you ensure the safety of all people in your school (business or community) when the next storm strikes.

 

I am seeking advice to protect employees in a large, one-story commercial building that has pre-poured cement outer walls and a metal roof. We have no basement, the interior offices are drywall partitions with a dropped ceiling and there does not appear to be any area that is secure. The local fire department has no suggestions.

This manner of construction is very common; however, it’s hard to know the integrity of any particular building without an engineering analysis, preferably by hiring a specialist with experience in wind engineering. My experience doing damage surveys is that large-span, pre-fab, concrete and metal beam buildings are sturdy up to a “failure point”–which can vary a lot from site to site–but then crumple quickly and violently once that threshold is reached. A concrete-lined (and -topped) safe room with no windows is recommended. This is an emergency bunker that may double as a restroom, break room or employee lounge, but should be big enough to fit all occupants in the event of a warning. For more information on safe rooms, see FEMA’s safe room page, which deals mainly with residential construction, but which can be adapted for office use. FEMA also has posted a page on in-hospital shelter in Kansas, that may be useful for this purpose also. The Wind Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University also provides guidance about shelters. The insulated concrete form (ICF) is a very wind- and debris-resistant construction method for many small buildings or additions, whether doing new construction or retrofitting.  But the best course of action is to contact us for a free no obligation cost estimate to supply your business with a custom tornado shelter to protect your employees from an unpredictable storm.  We offer storm shelters and safe rooms to protect a single person or 500+.  We can customize our offerings to your exact needs because we build them in our facility.  We are not a reseller and that leads to cost savings and more peace of mind due to the transparency of our operations and our reputation that has been built over more than 21 years in business protecting people from dangerous tornadoes.

 

What would happen if a large, violent tornado hit a major city today?

This has happened on several occasions, including in parts of Oklahoma City on 3 May 1999 and Birmingham on 27 April 2011. Because of excellent, timely watches and warnings and intense media coverage of the Oklahoma tornado long before it hit, only 36 people were killed. The damage toll exceeded $1 billion. Still, it did not strike downtown, and passed over many miles of undeveloped land. Moving the same path north or south in the same area may have led to much greater death and damage tolls. The threat exists for a far worse disaster! Placing the same tornado outbreak in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, especially during rush hour gridlock (with up to 62,000 vehicles stuck in the path), the damage could triple what was done in Oklahoma. There could be staggering death tolls in the hundreds or thousands, devastated infrastructure, overwhelmed emergency services, and massive amounts of rubble requiring months of cleanup. Ponder the prospect of such a tornado’s path in downtown Dallas, for example. The North Texas Council of Governments and NWS Ft. Worth has compiled a very detailed study of several such violent tornado disaster scenarios in the Metroplex, which could be adapted to other major metro areas as well.

 

Could we have some sort of alert system where a computer automatically calls people in a tornado warning to let them know they could be in danger?

This idea has some merit. Right now, though, there are several logistical problems. First, a tornado may take out phone lines, or the power to run them. Barring that, the phone network reaches saturation pretty easily if someone (or something) tries to try to dial thousands of numbers at once. Finally, people would need to be patient and willing to accept a majority of false alarm calls. Most tornado warnings do not contain tornadoes, because of the uncertainties built into tornado detection which we can’t yet help. And even when a tornado happens, it usually hits only a tiny fraction of the warned area (again, because of forecasting uncertainties); so most people called by the automated system would not be directly hit.

 

Are there smartphone apps that offer warnings for tornadoes and other kinds of dangerous weather?

Yes, private companies have developed several apps that relay NWS tornado warnings to smartphones, based on their location and/or user-specified places. For example, you can set some apps to always provide warnings for certain ZIP codes or addresses of interest away from your current location, such as those of your home, business, or friends and loved ones. We cannot endorse any particular apps, but a search in your device provider’s app store should yield some that are highly rated, along with reviews by users. NOAA has partnered with major cellular providers to push “Wireless Emergency Alerts” to most modern cell phones, and those include tornado warnings. Also, some local governments have enacted warning-alert systems that alarm phones in their jurisdictions when warnings are issued. Please check with your local emergency management agency to see if such a system is in place in your area, or soon will be. Caution: cell-phone warnings cannot work if the phone system is disabled, and might fail or be delayed if the network is overloaded (as can happen during a major storm or other disaster).

 

I recently moved from the Plains and noticed that there are no “tornado warning” sirens here. Is this because tornadoes don’t occur here? Isn’t it required to have sirens everywhere?

There is no nationwide requirement for tornado sirens. Siren policy is local and varies from place to place. The National Weather Service has no control over sirens or siren policy. The NWS issues watches and warnings; but it is up to the local governments to have a community readiness system in place for their citizens. In conversations with emergency managers and spotter coordinators, I have found that the two most common reasons for a lack of sirens are low budgets and the misconception that tornadoes cannot happen in an area. Your city and/or county emergency manager would be the first person to query about the tornado preparedness program in your community. Remember: outdoor sirens are for outdoor use. Everyone should have ways to receive warnings besides sirens.

 

Our office would like to print signs (universal symbol image type signs) similar to “emergency exit,” “fire extinguisher,” etc. that could be used to identify designated tornado shelter areas. Can you provide me with a graphic or something I can use?

Sure! There isn’t a universal tornado shelter symbol yet. Any such sign should be very bold and noticeable–yet designed to be simple, with minimal visual clutter, so even a small child can recognize it. In response to this question, here is one possible tornado shelter sign which may be printed and used freely. There are also versions with arrows pointing right, left, up, and down. The signs ideally should be printed in color, on heavy card stock or sticker paper for durability.

 

Thanks for reading our Tornado Safety Questions and Answers and please contact us through our website if you are interested in exploring a tornado shelter for your home, business, or community.

Community Storm Shelters

Tennessee Valley Tornado Shelter Locations (separated by County)

List updated April 2015

CHEROKEE COUNTY

Industrial Blvd, next to Leesburg Town Hall
Leesburg, AL
Holds 150-200 people

COLBERT COUNTY

14439 County Line Road
Ford City/Leighton
Holds 100+ people

8856 Main Street
Leighton
Holds 100+ people

1448 Jackson Highway
Littleville
Holds 100+ people

1211 2nd Street
Cherokee
Holds 100+ people

Colbert County EMA Office
120 West 5th Street
Tuscumbia
Holds about 50 people

Intersection of County Line Road and 2nd Street (Underwood Crossroads)
12491 County Line Road
Leighton
Holds about 80 people

Rose Trail Park
37 Rose Trail Park
Riverton (next to Riverton VFD)
Holds about 80 people

Nitrate City Volunteer Fire Dept.
1341 Alabama Avenue
Muscle Shoals
Holds about 80 people

Highway 247 Volunteer Fire Dept.
4639 Highway 247
Tuscumbia
Holds 40 people

2848 Denton Road
Tuscumbia
Holds 40 people

County Yard, Tuscumbia
914 South Hickory Street
Tuscumbia
Holds about 80 people

Colbert Alloys Park
191 Alloys Park Lane
Muscle Shoals
Holds about 80 people

Updated April 7, 2014. Colbert County has plans to add 14 more shelters in the next few years.

CULLMAN COUNTY

Baileyton
112 Fairview Rd
Capacity: 96
No pets

Chapel Village/Jones Chapel
74 County Rd 1034, Cullman, AL 35057
Capacity 90-100
No pets

Cullman County Courthouse Basement
500 2nd Ave SW, Cullman, AL 35055
No pets

Dodge City Town Hall – basement
130 Howard Circle, Hanceville, AL 35077
(basement was built to storm shelter standards)

Dodge City Volunteer Fire Department
7150 County Rd 223
Capacity: 96
No pets

Fairview Housing Authority
501 1st Ave SW
Capacity: 90-100
No pets

Garden City Town Hall
501 1st Ave SW
Capacity: 450+ people
No pets

Good Hope City Hall (Basement)
134 Town Hall Dr, Cullman, AL 35057
Capacity: 100
No pets

Good Hope freestanding shelter behind City Hall
Accessed via Madison Dr.
Capacity: 96
No pets

Good Hope Volunteer Fire Department #2
301 Day Gap Rd
Capacity: 96
No pets

Hanceville – three shelters:
202 Bangor Avenue SE
1407 Commercial Street SE
203 Michelle Street NW
No pets

Smith Lake Park
420 County Rd 385
Capacity: 96
No pets

South Vinemont
88 Ridgeway St
Capacity: 96
No pets

Vinemont Providence Volunteer Fire Department #1
576 County Rd 1355, Vinemont, AL 35179
Capacity: 200
No pets

Vinemont Providence Volunteer Fire Department #2
60 Ridgeway St
Capacity: 200
No pets

West Point
4050 County Rd 1141
Capacity: 96
No pets

DEKALB COUNTY

Crossville, at the fire department
96 people

DeKalb County Activities Building
Fort Payne
(basement – can hold about 200 people)

Fyffe Senior Center
413 Graves Street
(Holds about 20 people)

Fyffe Town Hall
Holds 96 people

Fyffe Church of God
778 Main Street, Fyffe
(256) 623-3822
(please call first to see if shelter is open)

Geraldine Town Hall
96 people

Greenbriar Avenue
Henagar (holds 96 people)

Main Street, Powell (across from Town Hall)
Holds 96 people

Northeast Alabama Community College
Rainsville
Opening at 9:00 p.m.
Shelter holds 1000-1500 people

Plainview School
Shelter can hold 600-700 people

Shiloh, at fire department
96 people

Sylvania, next to fire department
14 Enterprise Street
Sylvania, AL 35988
Holds 96 people

Upper Sand Mountain Parish (private-run shelter)
24474 Sylvania Road
Sylvania, AL 35988

ETOWAH COUNTY

The Gadsden/Etowah County EMA has a website where you can see all open shelters on a map to find the closest to you. Click here to view that map.

Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church
5950 Sardis Rd, Boaz, Al 35956
Handicap Accessible

Black Creek Volunteer Fire Department
20 Styles Bridge Rd, Collinsville, AL 35961
Handicap Accessible
Pets Allowed

Etowah Baptist Association
853 Walnut St.
Downtown Gadsden
Handicap Accessible

First Baptist Church Southside
2560 Mountain View Dr, Southside, AL 35907
Handicap Accessible
Pets Allowed with Crates

First Baptist Church of Hokes Bluff
5052 Main St, Hokes Bluff, AL 35903
Handicap Accessible

Gadsden Public Library
254 College St.
Downtown Gadsden
Handicap Accessible
Pets Allowed

Goodyear Heights Baptist Church
608 Kaying Rd. N
E. Gadsden/Glencoe
Handicap Accessible

New Bethel First Congressional Methodist Church
6673 Main St, Hokes Bluff, AL 35903
Handicap Accessible
Pets Allowed with Crates

NE Etowah Community Center
3733 US Hwy 411 N
Nothern Etowah County, Near Gaston School
Handicap Accessible
Pets Allowed
FEMA P-361 Compliant

Paden Baptist Church
900 Padenreich Ave
Near Gadsden State Community College
Handicap Accessible

Stowers Hill Baptist Church
407 Ninth Ave. SW, Attalla, AL 35954
Handicap Accessible
Pets Allowed with Crates

Young’s Chapel Methodist Church
44 Youngs Chapel Rd
Hokes Bluff/Piedmont
Handicap Accessible
Pets Allowed with Crates

FRANKLIN COUNTY

Shelter behind Hodges City Hall
1842 Hwy. 172
Hodges

Phil Campbell Community Center
132 Sherry Bryce Dr.
Phil Campbell

Blue Springs Fire Department
Highway 75
Phil Campbell

Vina Fire Department
79 Church Street
Vina

Red Bay Water Park
640 2nd St NE
Red Bay

Red Bay Old Airport
627 9th Ave NW
Red Bay

Russellville Park & Rec Center
204 Ash Ave
Russellville

511 Gaines Ave
Russellville

Pleasant Site Fire Department
2785 Hwy. 90
Pleasant Site

Burnout Fire Department
75 Hwy 224
Burnout

Shelter Near Belgreen School Gym
14141 Hwy 187
Belgreen

JACKSON COUNTY

Bridgeport Shelter
602 Broadway Ave, Bridgeport, AL

Bridgeport Shelter
2105 5th St, Bridgeport, AL

Dutton Town Hall
69 Browntown Road (Basement)
Holds 250-300 people

Jackson County Courthouse (basement)
123 East Laurel Street
Scottsboro
(256) 574-9330
Occupancy: 100

Langston Safe Room
9277 County Rd. 67, Langston, AL

Section City Hall
72 Dutton Rd, Section, AL
Basement

Paint Rock Shelter
3227 U.S. Highway 72, Paint Rock, AL

Stevenson Shelter
905 E. 2nd Street, Stevenson, AL

Stevenson Shelter
802 Kentucky Ave, Stevenson, AL

LAUDERDALE COUNTY

North Wood United Methodist Church
1129 N Wood Ave
Florence, AL

Petersville Church of Christ
3601 Cloverdale Rd.
Florence, AL

Underwood/Petersville Community Center
840 County Road7
Florence, AL

Stoney Point Church of Christ
1755 County Road 24
Florence, AL

Williams Chapel Presbyterian Church
6401 County Road 1
Waterloo, AL

Killen United Methodist Church
201 J.C. Mauldin Hwy.
Killen, AL

Bank Independent
11250 Hwy. 101
Lexington, AL

Lexington Town Hall (Old Vault Area)
11060 Hwy. 101
Lexingon, AL

Woodmont Baptist Church
2001 Darby Drive
Florence, AL

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church
8880 County Road 71 (Old Lexington Florence Road, southwest of Lexington)
Lexington, AL

First Baptist Church of Anderson
245 Church St.
Anderson, AL

Rogersville United Methodist Church
51 Turner Lindsey Road
Rogersville, AL

Rogersville Church of Christ
450 College Street (County Road 26)
Rogersville, AL

First Baptist Church of Rogersville
222 College Street (County Road 26)
Rogersville, AL

Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church
2705 County Rd 222
Florence, AL 35633

Elgin United Methodist Church
2743 Hwy 101
Elgin, AL

LAWRENCE COUNTY

Roy Coffee Park
3581 Jefferson Street
Courtland
Holds 96 people

First Baptist Church
Jefferson Street
Courtland
(*North Courtland residents – please feel free to use this one)

6619 County Road 81
Danville (next to the Speake Senior Center)
Holds 96 people

11720 Main Street
Hillsboro
Holds 96 people

Chalybeate – next to Chalybeate VFD
69 County Road 296
Hillsboro
Holds 96 people

14201 Court Street
Moulton
Holds 720 people

Wren Community Shelter
(Behind Pleasant Grove Church)
11440 Alabama Highway 33
Moulton
Holds 96 people

Mount Hope Senior Center
3142 County Road 460
Mount Hope
Holds 96 people

7042 Alabama Highway 101
(Hatton community – at the Hatton Senior Center)
Town Creek
Holds 96 people

Red Bank Park
1933 County Road 314
Town Creek
Holds 96 people

1025 Wallace Street
Town Creek
Holds 192 people

Veterans Memorial Park
6229 County Road 214
Trinity
Holds 96 people

LIMESTONE COUNTY

Ardmore City Hall
25844 Main St.
Ardmore, TN 38449
Holds 150 people

Ardmore Public Shelter
29910 Park Avenue (across from the Boys and Girls Club)
Ardmore, AL
Holds 300 people

Clements Community Safe Room
9158 U.S. Hwy. 72 W., Athens, AL 35611
Holds approximately 100 people

Community shelter/East Limestone area
Basement of Bethel Church of Christ
Intersection of Bledsoe Road and Capshaw Road
26772 Capshaw Road
Athens, AL 35613

Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
1418 Old Railroad Bed Road
Madison, AL 35757-6613
Open when there is a watch or warning issued for Madison or Limestone counties

Goodsprings Community Shelter
33634 AL Hwy. 99, Anderson, AL 35610
Holds 150 people

Lester Community Shelter
30306 Lester Rd., Lester, AL 35647
Holds 100 people

Owens Elementary School
21465 AL Hwy. 99, Athens, AL 35611
Holds 600 people
Will be open to the public after school hours only

Pleasant Grove Safe Room
9080 Upper Snake Road, Athens, AL 35614
Holds 150 people

Ark of Promise Church Safe Room
15199 Browns Ferry Road, Reid, AL 35611
Holds 200 people

West Limestone High School
10945 School House Rd., Lester, AL 35647
Holds 1,000 people
Will be open to the public after school hours only

LINCOLN COUNTY, TN

Belleville Community Center

Blanche School
1649 Ardmore Hwy

Boonshill Community Center
8o Red Oak Road
Fayetteville, TN

Delrose Fire Station
1 Front Street
Delrose, TN

Fayetteville Municipal Building
East side Square
Fayetteville, TN

Flintville First Baptist Church
200 Flintville Rd

Flintville School
36 Flintville School Rd.

Lincoln County Courthouse
On the square
Fayetteville, TN

Lincoln County High School
Hwy 231/431
Fayetteville, TN

Mimosa Coummunity Center
464 Mimosa Rd

Park City Church of Christ
42 McDougal Road
Fayetteville, TN
(931) 433-7691

Petersburg Town Hall
120 East Side Square
Petersburg, TN

State Line Church of Christ
Hwy 231-431S

Stewarts Chapel Church
Stewarts Chapel Rd

MADISON COUNTY

Visit sheltermadison.com for information on storm shelters. Madison County does not operate public shelters, but here is a list of shelters run by municipalities, churches and community groups. They are open to the public. Most do not allow pets, though.

Faith Presbyterian Church
5003 Whitesburg Drive
Huntsville, AL 35803
Will hold about 40 people. Rooms located at south end of the building which is handicap accessible. Currently open when tornado threat coincides with normal office hours or church service times.

James Clemens High School
Madison, AL
Capacity: 500 people
*Handicap accessible, pets allowed in carriers/crates

New Hope
5507 Main Drive, New Hope AL 35760
just across from Town Hall
2 shelters, located side by side
Will hold around 300 people total
No pets allowed, only service animals

New Hope United Methodist Church
5351 Main Drive, New Hope
Holds around 100 people

Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church
292 Cemetery Road
New Market
Will opening as shelter after tornado warning is issued in Limestone County

Good Shepherd United Methodist Church
1418 Old Railroad Bed Road
Madison, AL 35757-6613
Capacity: 100 people
Open when there is a tornado watch or warning issued for Madison or Limestone counties. Call (256) 232-3331, option 3 (if the shelter is open, the shelter phone will be manned.) No pets allowed. Please make other arrangements for your pets before severe weather arrives.

Harvest Youth Club
230 Lockhart Road
Harvest, AL 35749
*Shelter opens any time there is a tornado watch issued in Limestone County. Above-ground shelter, holds 125 people; 1 bag per person, no pets, only service animals
Phone number is (256) 217-0320 – but phone is not located in shelter, so if they’re inside, they won’t be able to answer.

Flint River Baptist Church
12945 Hwy 231/431 North, Hazel Green (next to Meridianville Middle School)
Church will open when a tornado watch is issued and remain open as long as needed
Enter through the “Student Entrance” door located at the back of the building
Pets are allowed in carriers
(256) 828-3692
Shelter holds 150 people

Murphy Hill Baptist Church
626 Murphy Hill Road, Toney, AL 35773
Has 5 shelters, each hold about 12 people
(256) 828-3171

Parker Chapel United Methodist Church
28670 Powell Road
Madison, AL 35756
Underground shelter – holds about 50 people

The Madison County EMA does not operate any public shelters. After the tornadoes of April 2011, the county made the decision to distribute FEMA grant money to individuals to install storm shelters in private homes. The county is not affiliated with the shelters listed above.

MARSHALL COUNTY

Asbury Martling
4059 Martling Rd, Albertville
By Martling Senior Center

Claysville
22165 US Hwy 431, Guntersville
By Cedar Lodge Center

Douglas
165 Hwy 168, Douglas
By Douglas Town Hall

Georgia Mountain
2485 Georgia Mtn Rd, Guntersville
By Georgia Mtn VFD

Grant
307 2nd Ave West, Grant
(by Grant Recreation Center)

Grant
21 1st Ave West, Grant
By D2 Shop

Hebron
90 Hebron School Rd, Grant
By Hebron VFD

Martling Senior Center
Albertville

Mt. Pleasant
5743 Simpson Point Rd, Grant

Nixon Chapel
7925 Nixon Chapel Rd, Horton
By Nixon Chapel VFD

Pleasant Grove
7275 Section Line Road, Albertville
By Pleasant Grove VFD

Riverview
1345 Cha-La-Kee Road, Guntersville
By Riverview Campground

Scant City
3850 Eddy Scant Rd, Arab
By D1 Shop

Swearengin
5120 Swearengin Rd, Swearengin
By Swearengin VFD

Union Grove
3680 Union Grove Rd, Union Grove
By Union Grove Town Hall

Wakefield
777 South Sauty Rd, Langston
By Wakefield VFD

Wakefield Volunteer Fire Department
Whitesville
118 Whitesville Church Rd, Boaz

MORGAN COUNTY

Danville Volunteer Fire Department
5798 Hwy 36 West
Danville, AL 35619
2 shelters at this location – both hold 98 people

Decatur City Hall
(Basement)
Decatur, AL

Abundant Life Church
524 Lafayette St. NE
Decatur, AL 35601
(256) 345-9930
Basement holds 125-150 people

Somerville City Hall
192 Broad Street
Somerville, AL 35670
Holds 96 people – no smoking, no pets

Cutoff Road, half a mile south of Alabama 67 in the Cross Creek housing area
Somerville, AL
Holds 96 people – no smoking, no pets

Massey Volunteer Fire Department
386 Evergreen Road
Danville, AL
Holds 98 people

Morgan City Community Shelter
Located behind the new Brindlee Mountain Fire Department facility
U.S. 231
Open any time a Tornado Watch or Tornado Warning is issued for Morgan County

Morgan County EMA
(first floor of Morgan County Courthouse)
302 Lee Street NE
Decatur, AL

Priceville Town Hall (Basement)
Priceville, AL

Punkin Center Volunteer Fire Department
116 Kirby Bridge Road
Danville, AL
Holds 98 people

Trinity Town Hall
35 Preston Drive (near the corner of Preston Drive and Seneca Drive)
Trinity, AL 35673
Holds 98 people