NIST Report Calls for National Codes for Tornado-Resistant Structures

The federal agency's technical investigation following the May 2011 EF5 tornado that struck Joplin, Mo., has taken two years to complete and is the first to scientifically assess the impact of a tornado in four major categories.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft report Nov. 21 about the impacts of the EF5 tornado the touched down in Joplin, Mo., on May 22, 2011. Two years in the making, the report calls for national standards and model codes for tornado-resistant buildings, particularly crucial structures such as hospitals. Such standards could significantly reduce deaths and property damage caused by tornadoes, it states.

The report was announced at a press briefing held at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin and is open for public comments. The comments must be received by 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 6, 2014; they can be emailed to disaster@nist.gov or mailed to NIST Technical Investigation Joplin, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 8611, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8611. After the comment period ends, NIST will issue a final report and then work with code development organizations and governmental agencies on improving building codes.

Its investigation of the Joplin tornado was conducted under the provisions of the National Construction Safety Team Act.

According to NIST, this is the first study to scientifically assess the impact of a tornado in four major categories -- tornado characteristics, building performance, human behavior, and emergency communication -- and how each affected life safety.

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