STRUCTURE Magazine Article: Structural Design and Coordination of ICC 500 Tornado Shelters

Date Posted: Jul 23, 2021
Location: Dallas, TX

Structural Design and Coordination of ICC 500 Tornado Shelters, Key Considerations and Lessons Learned

By Jessica Simon, P.E., and Andrew Dziak, P.E.

“Recent media coverage has highlighted the devastation associated with tornado outbreaks in many urban and suburban areas. Rapid population growth and urban sprawl in many cities within the central United States have increased the number of structures located within the potential path of these storms. Tornadoes generĀ­ate high winds and extreme loads that are significantly higher than typical building design loads.

When tornadoes strike in populated areas, the cost can be devastating in terms of injuries, loss of life, and damage to property. The destructive tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, in May 2011 injured 1,150 people, killed 158, and caused an estimated $2.8 billion in damage - one of the most
expensive on record. In March 2020, a pair of devastating tornadoes passed through the Nashville, Tennessee area, killing at least 24 people and severely damaging or collapsing hundreds of structures. In 2014, the second edition of ICC 500, Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters, was co-published by the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Storm
Shelter Association (NSSA). Starting with the 2015 International Building Code (IBC), certain structures are required to be designed with ICC 500-compliant community tornado shelters. This article provides clarity on when an ICC 500 torĀ­nado shelter is required per the IBC and shares lessons learned to help practicing structural engineers design safe and effective tornado shelters.”

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