Storm Shelters

Storm shelters provide safety from tornadoes, hurricanes, and severe storms. They are specialized spaces with specific design considerations! The ICC 500, ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters – 2014 defines 2 types of shelters: tornado shelters are designed for 2 hours of use, and hurricane shelters are for a 24-hour event.

Each type has differing requirements for services, including ventilation, drinking water, sanitation facilities, and emergency power and lighting. They resist extremely high wind pressures and flying debris with thick concrete walls and protected openings. Additionally, if a storm shelter is within a surrounding (host) building, it must be designed as if the host building gets blown away by the storm.

The International Building Code requires storm shelters in certain types of facilities – for example, police and fire stations and some educational occupancies – in areas where the design wind speed for tornadoes is 250 mph. Additionally, the Alabama Building Commission requires new buildings with classrooms or dorm rooms at public 2-year or 4-year institutions to include a storm shelter. Full design requirements for storm shelters can be found in the ICC 500, ICC/NSSA Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters.

Tornado Shelter Wind Speed Map

Tornado Shelter Wind Speed Map

Eric Myracle, PE

Eric Myracle, PE

Associate Partner, Mechanical Engineer
Eric has 22 years of mechanical engineering and project management experience with a variety of building types, including health care, laboratory, academic and judicial facilities. He has published and presented on the topic of sustainably designed buildings. Email Eric
Eric Myracle, PE
Eric Myracle, PE

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