On May 20, 2013, an EF-5 tornado touched down 4.4 miles west of Newcastle, OK and ended 4.8 miles east of Moore, OK, yielding an approximate path length of 17 miles and a maximum damage path width of 1.3 miles. Engineered structures, including two elementary schools, high school, theater, and medical center, were badly damaged or destroyed along with several hundred residential homes. This area represents an ideal and rare case study for wind engineering research because of the number of structural failures and debris samples, and especially since the area has experienced severe tornadoes in the past. The primary objective of this study is to collect perishable field data of damage from this 2013 tornado to advance understanding of tornadic wind and its effects on buildings and other structures. This study will focus on the performance of simple structures, building glazing, and storm shelters. A team of researchers from Texas Tech University will deploy during late May and June 2013 to the Moore, OK area to collect the following data: (a) identify simple structures along the path of the storm and collect data on their geometries, construction materials, observed failure modes, and damages to adjacent structures; (b) document glazing types used in commercial and residential buildings, their failure modes, and surrounding debris fields; and (c) survey storm shelters located within the tornado's path and document their design, construction, maintenance, and performance. This data collection effort extends a long history of field studies of windstorms at Texas Tech University and builds upon the team's extensive research on storm shelters, the Enhanced Fujita Scale (EF-scale), and wind-resistant glazing.

This study will result in multiple benefits to both the wind engineering community and construction industry. First, the wind speeds assigned to degrees of damage in the EF-scale are based on expert opinion. The data collected in this study can be used to validate wind speed estimation and improve the overall quality of the EF-scale. Second, understanding the performance of building glazing is timely as industry and code communities are currently working to develop design requirements for newer types of glazing subject to wind hazards. Third, data on the performance of storm shelters can be used to update current design guidelines and standards, leading to safer shelters, and to direct future research needed for understanding debris impact on storm shelters.

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Texas Tech University
United States
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