Insights and expertise for doors and frames

Designing Shelters for Obscure Windstorms

The recent Derecho got me thinking about how to build a shelter for that kind of a storm, and what other unusual and rare types of windstorms exist that we need to be prepared for. Building codes are enforced on windstorms such as hurricanes and tornados, so those are the shelter types that doors and other building components are tested for. I’ll admit I’d never heard of a Derecho until the event swept across the Midwest on August 10th, 2020. As such, I clumsily mispronounced the storm type before being corrected by a colleague that is derived from a Spanish word meaning “direct/straight” and pronounced deh-REY-cho.

According to Wikipedia: “A derecho is a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm that is associated with a fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms known as a mesoscale convective system and potentially rivalling hurricanic and tornadic forces. Derechos can cause hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, heavy rains, and flash floods.” The major difference between derechos and hurricanes or tornados is that there is no eye of the storm with winds revolving around it. Instead the derecho sustains the high wind speed in a straight line.

Since the wind is causing the damage, the proper shelter facility would depend on the sustained wind speeds of a particular derecho. The recent storm that caused billions of dollars in damages throughout Iowa had estimated wind speeds of 140 miles per hour. That’s equivalent to a category 4 hurricane, but how many hurricane shelters are required in the land-locked Midwest? A better, or more realistic alternative, is a tornado shelter which can be designed to withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour. Most derechos on record have created subsequent tornados along their path as well.

So if you find yourself in the path of a derecho, be sure to know the forecasted wind speeds and your nearest tornado or hurricane shelter. Other obscure wind storms that you might need shelter from include haboobs, squall lines, bomb cyclones, and even firenados!

These links to Ceco Door, Curries and Fleming Door Products provide more information on tornado and hurricane resistant shelter doors.