- Education and Science
What Is A Storm Shelter And Why Is It So Important?
A new beginning
Do you see it? That tiny little blade breaking its way out of the frozen patch of snow. Can you smell the odor so strong you can taste it? That odor of musky wood, decaying grass, and rotten leaves in the dirt, as it begins to thaw in the warmth of the sun's rays. Do you hear it? The chirping and chatter of birds coming back to roost. Can you feel it? The changes of winter slumber awakening to spring.
Spring is a time of new beginnings where signs of life are stretching off the hibernation of winter. Baby animals begin born. Birds singing their mating calls. Plants are budding and blooming. Gardens are being tilled and planted. Spring is also a time where snow storms change to rain showers.
It is a time of cleaning gutters, fixing siding, repairing roofs, polishing windows and airing out the house. It is also a time to think about installing an underground storm shelter if you do not have one yet. For those people that do, spring is the time when they clean out the winter garbage that has collected in preparation for the upcoming storms.
What is a storm shelter?
A storm shelter is a building that is built below ground. (It can also be built above ground, but there are many FEMA requirements it will need to pass.) The shelter can be made out of any building material from railroad ties to concrete slabs, depending on the preference, and budget of the owner. A few simple questions need to be asked before building your shelter.
Do you want to build it yourself or hire a professional?
It is possible to build one yourself if you have the knowledge of basic building skills. (You will also need to look into building permits required in your area.) In these times, people are hiring a professional so their shelters will meet FEMA codes.
How many people will it hold?
This is important because it will determine the sized of shelter needed.
Do you want to access it from inside or outside of your home?
In our area, some of the old farm houses use their root cellars, with an outside access, to double as their storm shelter. This type of shelter is located a few feet from the back door of the home. It looks like a small mound of dirt with a door in it. Recently, I seen an ad where the storm shelter was built under the garage. It was accessed through the garage to an underground stairwell leading to the storm shelter. (Similar to the basement of a home.)
If you live in an area where there is flooding, you may want to choose an above ground shelter. (Again, this will require research for above ground shelters in your area. If choosing this, I would recommend a professional.)
Why is a storm shelter so important?
These will happen during certain times of the year when the conditions are right. That is when cool air collides with warm air. It causes a circulation of air current that forms into a tunnel that is similar to a vacuum cleaner. As this high velocity, funnel, vacuum cleaner travels across the ground, it destroys anything in its path. The best safe place from it is in a storm shelter.
Tornadoes are being spotted in areas where they are unheard of or rarely seen. For example: North Dakota has been known to have tornadoes in the days before technology was dreamed of. During that time very few of them had been spotted unless the conditions were just right. Over the last few years, they are becoming more and more frequent. Certain areas of the United States encounter so much tornado activity that these areas had been given the name Tornado Alley. This is in the panhandle of the United States...Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. It is not uncommon to see Texas, Arkansas, or Missouri included in this list. (Each year, a surrounding state next to these have reported tornadoes in their area.)
Storm clouds with a possibility of tornado
Video by dustystix76 of the Wright Wyoming Tornado
As a child
I remember as a child moving to Wyoming. The first thing my dad did was build a storm shelter there. I remember watching the neighbors hovering over the fence mocking my dad. They had claimed that they had never seen a tornado there for as long as they had lived in that area. A few years later, they ate those words as a tornado touched down not far from them. It didn't take long for the neighborhood to install their own shelters.
The worst tornado I can remember, that made national news in Wyoming, was one that took apart half the town of Wright. This happened on August 12, 2005. My dad was at the mall checking his mail when he seen the storm cloud forming in the distance. He described seen a small funnel in the center of the cloud. At first he couldn't believe what he say. Then it dawned on him...this was a tornado.
Do you know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning?
The news anchor is talking of storms and the sirens are blaring. Do you know if this is a tornado warning or watch? Click here to learn more about the difference.
He told the people next to him to seek shelter. They didn't believe him at first until the sirens went off. He described how his brand new barbeque he just bought was sucked out of the back of his truck, as he raced home. He remember watching, in his rear view mirror, the tornado ripping apart trailers and debris flying past. He made it home with seconds to spare. My sister, Pie, didn't realize she had been traveling parallel to it until she reached our mother's house. Many people in the trailer park didn't have a storm shelter to run to. Two people lost their life that day. This was only an F2 tornado.
True or False
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Listen to the news and know the difference between tornado watch and tornado warning.
Listen to your area news. If a storm is in the horizon, look for signs of a tornado. Most, but not all, tornado clouds will have a green haze to them. The old timers claim this is because the storm is carrying hail which increases the conditions of a possible tornado. Even if you have never heard of a tornado but experience strong thunderstorms, it would be wise to invest in a storm shelter. You never know...it may save a life. Be sure when listening to the warnings in your area to know the difference between tornado warnings and tornado watches. This, too, is very important.
Inquiring minds would like to know...
If you have built your own storm shelter, please share your experience in the comment box.
If you have experienced a tornado, please share your experience in the comment box.
If you have a question about storm shelters or tornadoes, please leave your question in the comment box and a fellow hubber, or myself, will answer it.