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OK City Data Center Built To Withstand Winds Up To 310 MPH, Says Contractor

timothy posted about a year ago | from the I'll-huff-and-I'll-puff-and-I'll-wheeze dept.

Earth 139

dcblogs writes "The area around and to the southwest of Oklahoma City, where more tornadoes were striking Friday night, 'has perhaps the greatest frequency of tornadoes in the U.S.,' said John Snow, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. About 95% of all tornadoes are below EF3 intensity, and only 0.1% achieve EF5, which is what hit Moore earlier this month. To build a data center capable of surviving an EF3, Perimeter Technology in Oklahoma City surrounded the raised floor portion of the data center with 8.5-in. reinforced concrete walls. The data center is in the middle of the building, and around it are offices protected by another 8.5-in. exterior wall. But there's another data center in Oklahoma City that may be able survive 310 MPH winds. The company, Devon Energy, isn't talking about its data center or even confirming that it has one capable of handling these winds. But a contractor has disclosed details."

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It seems (2, Insightful)

lesincompetent (2836253) | about a year ago | (#43881859)

At last you yankees finally got the tale of the three little pigs right.

Re:It seems (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43881889)

At last you yankees finally got the tale of the three little pigs right.

Just because a private company was smart enough to protect its own business by investing in appropriate infrastructure for its chosen location doesn't mean the rest of the area (let alone all us yankees) will follow suit. It's all risk assessment and budgeting, and most municipalities are always willing to short change the future residents and politicians for the sake of not being the ones who spent "all that money on something that will probably never ever be used or even adequately tested". If they don't envision themselves as being in office or up for election that far into the future they are more than happy to drop the future potential catastrophe into the laps of whomever ends up in their place.

Their (lack of) foresight always reminds me of the Monorail episode of the Simpsons.

Re:It seems (1)

thereitis (2355426) | about a year ago | (#43882285)

Just because a private company was smart enough to protect its own business by investing in appropriate infrastructure for its chosen location doesn't mean the rest of the area (let alone all us yankees) will follow suit.

Power, Internet connections, food, water. They've built a castle (complete with inner walls!) and a tornado is providing the siege. How long can they last?

Re:It seems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883901)

I won't be surprised if this crap continues. It is far easier to deal with the lawsuits than actually build something that can handle the hazards of an area.

The only good news -- I'm glad they are actually bothering to build a data center. Too many companies are reliant on "the cloud".

Re: It seems (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#43882009)

Did you Europeans finally discover air conditioning? Or are another 20,000 some thousand people going to die in another summer heat wave?

Re: It seems (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882321)

They die in heat waves because european countries think that decomissioning perfectly good nuclear power plants is a good idea, and don't get the coal plants required to replace the capacity built in time (we can buy our shortfall from our neighbor's excess. What do you mean their demand peaks the same time as ours...)

I can only assume that the coal lobby has enormous power in Europe (as they apparently have in the US, since we only installed a handful of nuclear plants.)

Re: It seems (0, Flamebait)

Luckyo (1726890) | about a year ago | (#43882349)

It's a mix of coal lobby and a runaway trainwreck that is Green ideology. Now that most north and central European countries have basically implemented most of the things that Greens set out to originally do, they had to progress the ideology to sometimes absurd levels and branch out to other policies. This is one of the most absurd bases, where they are so stuck on "nuclear is bad" that they are willing to subsidize coal building. They have some good sides as well, as Greens are generally the "progressive thinkers" party in addition to "crazy tree huggers" one, in same sense as most right wing parties tend to be a mix of "pro business thinkers" and "religious nuts".

Re: It seems (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882503)

We discovered insulation first.

It works both ways you know?

Re: It seems (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883455)

We discovered insulation first.

It works both ways you know?

Doesn't look like it insulated you from alen's spot-on comment.

Re:It seems (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882223)

1. Oklahomans don't really appreciate being called Yankees.

2. Otherwise, yep. It looks like 310 MPH is the new normal.

Re:It seems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883009)

Eurotrash...

Re:It seems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883667)

"Breaking news. This just in: Hurricane headed toward Oklahoma. Winds expected to reach speeds up to 311MPH!"

Re:It seems (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#43884767)

At last you yankees finally got the tale of the three little pigs right.

You are, of course, aware that Oklahoma was not a state during the US Civil War, it was "Indian Territory", and that it was therefore neither Confederate ("Rebs") nor Union ("Yankee"), right?

Domes (1)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#43881887)

Domes fit the bill for tornado/hurricane resistant structures. I will accept nothing less than that or an underground facility or both. Don't build in a flood zone either.

Re:Domes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43881927)

They have poured Earth houses, and houses that just have dirt piled up next to it. They really need a new design and major building code rewrite in the central Midwest...

Every house should be able to withstand 200mph and flying debris... And don't say anything about cost. Dirt is cheap, heating and cooling costs would plummet, and insurance/taxpayers won't have to cover their loses every few years.

Re:Domes (4, Interesting)

LDAPMAN (930041) | about a year ago | (#43882635)

Here in Oklahoma we have lots of groundwater and heavy red clay soil. We also have extreme temperature variations. These combine to make maintaing underground structures very difficult. A traditional basement like you find in many areas of the country can be essentially destroyed in just a few years. Underground houses have similar issues. It has been tried but so far it has not proved to be very practical. Reinforced concrete above ground structures are likely a better solution.

Re:Domes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883165)

Basements are perfectly reasonable structures for new construction in OK. The biggest problem with getting builders to add basements is public perception that all basements will be soggy maintenance nightmares that will eventually collapse under water pressure. So if you build a house with a basement, you end up spending extra money to lower your property value.

Re:Domes (5, Informative)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about a year ago | (#43883235)

That's a myth. Both of those things can be overcome [npr.org] quite easily (yeah their example links to a business site but it doesn't make it untrue). It's perpetuated by the old, 'well everyone says so' bullshit. The reality is that builders don't have to dig deep because the frost line is not deep there and building codes say you don't have to dig deep. So it makes it cheaper to build if you don't dig a deep foundation like a properly built basement, with rebar reinforced concrete walls and floors and well drained gravel backfill outside like is done in more northerly parts of the country.

Southern Ontario has a lot of heavy red clay. I don't know anyone growing up, who didn't have a basement (I don't live there now). A lot of places have it. And you want to talk about expansion and contraction, look at Manitoba and Saskatchewan (with similar great plains/prairie soil). Especially Winnipeg which is build in a flood plain along the banks of a large (the Red) river. Talk about potential for water. The frost line is around 10 or 12 feet deep. That is a lot of depth for expansion and contraction (it's called frost heave). Every home practically has a basement there. And they have a technology called 'water proofing' now. It works on basements too. Seriously, only a retard would build a new house in Oklahoma (and the rest of tornado alley) without a basement that has at least a part with a cement cover. FWIW the 'showme' part of my nick comes from the fact I used to live in Missouri. I know the sound of the siren. And they have a lot of places without basements there too. Ridiculous.

Re:Domes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43884335)

Well us "retards" in Oklahoma know there are cheaper ways of putting in a storm shelter. $2k vs an entire basement, but you obviously know it all already.

Moron.

Re:Domes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43884309)

Bullshit. I've built homes and basements are solely unnecessary because to get to the water/sewer lines you don't have to go as deep as you in northern areas.

I built several homes for people with basements as well as 12x12 reinforced safe rooms with 12" concrete walls/ceiling.

You put a drain around it and add a sump pump, it's not fucking rocket science.

Re:Domes (1)

Dputiger (561114) | about a year ago | (#43882795)

I'm totally in favor of that building code rewrite, so long as you're paying the enormous demolition bill. Costs vary widely depending on location, but the Internet projects a cost of $4000 - $7000 for a small house, $9,000 - $22,000 if you have to tear the foundation out.

Somehow I doubt that families still getting back on their feet after the 2008 recession have the funds to pay for an arbitrary knockdown and rebuild. Even when it might make sense to do so. Even given the damage that the tornadoes have done. If you don't have much money (and Oklahoma isn't exactly known for its billionaires), you go elsewhere before you tear down and start over.

Re:Domes (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#43883255)

so long as you're paying the enormous demolition bill.

I think that's free in Oklahoma.

Re:Domes (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#43882633)

I will accept nothing less than that or an underground facility or both.

Forget domes, what's so hard about building underground? If you're going to design a building for 310mph winds, wouldn't it be easier to just build the thing underground? We have underground parking garages in many places, so cost shouldn't be that large an issue if we can afford to do it just for parking, which isn't exactly a high-value real estate item. Tornadoes don't bother with underground structures at all.

Re:Domes (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about a year ago | (#43882845)

Why not build it underground?

Pfft (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43881941)

This [wikipedia.org] data center can survive 3100 mph winds. [wikipedia.org]

thats nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43881955)

Thomson Reuters' location in Eagan Minnesota has its largest data center housed in a concrete bunker designed to withstand any tornado and a direct airliner strike(is in a landing approach for MSP International. The buildings that house the people on the same campus aren't so lucky though. lol

Rather odd secret to keep. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about a year ago | (#43881963)

"The company, Devon Energy, isn't talking about its data center or even confirming that it has one capable of handling these winds...."

I'm all for keeping things confidential to avoid disclosing vulnerabilities due to more traditional attacks, but this barely makes any sense whatsoever.

Why would you not want to advertise you have a data center with these capabilities, smack in the middle of tornado alley...

Re:Rather odd secret to keep. (1)

melonman (608440) | about a year ago | (#43882015)

Maybe to avoid Titanic Syndrome ("A boat even God couldn't sink"). Not that I think God goes around sinking boats and blowing down data centres to win arguments. But if your data centre does get damaged in a storm, and you haven't claimed that it's indestructible, you don't end up being used as a moral cautionary tale about the perils of pride for the next 100 years.

Re:Rather odd secret to keep. (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about a year ago | (#43882227)

Perhaps because they realize that advertising they can withstand an F3 tornado a week after an F5 hit is a bit silly....

Re: Rather odd secret to keep. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882703)

No, they are an energy company and aren't allowed to disclose anything about their infrastructure. But that bunker is Bellcore level safe which means an F5 will do little damage as well.

Re:Rather odd secret to keep. (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | about a year ago | (#43883851)

Devon makes business management software (accounting, shipping, employee training, etc.), but for a specific market segment only: nuclear power plants.

Oh the humanity! (4, Funny)

tippe (1136385) | about a year ago | (#43881971)

Due to a misunderstanding with European contractors, Oklahoma City's new data centre was only designed to handle very light breezes of up to 310 meters per hour (m/h), and collapsed moments after construction was completed. When asked how they could confuse "MPH" with "m/h", the response was "wast ist eine 'mile'?". Full story at 11...

Re:Oh the humanity! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882151)

Usually it's a dish washer or a vacuum cleaner (google it!). Oh, and you had an extra t after was

Re:Oh the humanity! (1)

tippe (1136385) | about a year ago | (#43882731)

Yes, as other comments also indicate, due to my lack of not knowing German, my German is pretty bad. Count yourself lucky I didn't use my amazing Swedish, which I've learned through years of watching the muppet show!

Re:Oh the humanity! (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#43882197)

Due to a misunderstanding with European contractors, Oklahoma City's new data centre was only designed to handle very light breezes of up to 310 meters per hour (m/h), and collapsed moments after construction was completed. When asked how they could confuse "MPH" with "m/h", the response was "wast ist eine 'mile'?". Full story at 11...

Was heißt "meile"? Fragen Sie bitte seine Grosßvater!

Re:Oh the humanity! (1)

etash (1907284) | about a year ago | (#43882595)

last i heard esset ist now kaput! ss i the new norm!

Re:Oh the humanity! (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year ago | (#43883217)

last i heard esset ist now kaput! ss i the new norm!

Give grandpa a break! Old habits die hard.

Actually, I was told the rules for ß are now reduced, but it isn't dead yet. And what's the good of an international keyboard if you can't exploit all the extra letters, anyway? I think English should bring back "thorn". Not only is it more convenient for writing ye definite article, it collates better phonetically!

Flying Cars (1)

MaXiMiUS (923393) | about a year ago | (#43881991)

You know nothing, Jon Snow.

On a more serious note, I'm not sure they should be worried about the wind. Is 8.5in of reinforced concrete really going to stop a station wagon full of tapes hurtling through the sky at 310mph?

Something tells me that their tornado budget would be better spent on insurance and remote data backups.

excellent pont (4, Insightful)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43882241)

if you have ever seen tornado damage in person, you stop coming up with these stupid ideas about windproof houses etc.

would your building survive a nuclear bomb blast? no? then it probably wont survive a direct tornado hit.

Re:Flying Cars (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#43882511)

A better solution would be an earth-sheltered design. Still not perfect, but much better protection, plus huge energy savings to boot.

Actually, I remember reading about an earth-sheltered school in Oklahoma back in the 80s while doing a research project on energy efficient architecture. Not sure if it was ever built or if it was just a design. (And I couldn't find it in 30 seconds of googling.) As I recall, it had a large central atrium to maximize natural lighting, but had large, sloping berms on all sides, with a few cutouts/tunnels for access.

If I were a resident of OK, and had kids, I would want them in a school like that.

Re:Flying Cars (3, Insightful)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#43883283)

One concern of mine:

310 mph winds != 310 mph debris slamming into the building.

To Expensive (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about a year ago | (#43882025)

... to build schools that way, I guess.

Re:To Expensive (3, Interesting)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#43882123)

Where's the profit in that? Berm-sided buildings and domes should be Code in that part of the country, from the air it should look like The Shire. People who live at the confluence of the jet stream descending after crossing the Rockies and the warm, moist air up from the Gulf shouldn't be surprised when tornados form, any more than river-bank dwellers by spring flooding.

conversely, the shire must have had awful tornados (3, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43882249)

otherwise therese basically no reason for hobbits to build that way

Re:conversely, the shire must have had awful torna (3, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#43882677)

Underground housing has many benefits besides protection from severe winds, chiefly protection against temperature changes. Underground houses don't ever get too hot or cold. Maybe the Shire gets excessively hot in the summer and the Hobbits, not having invented air conditioning, prefer to stay cool. Of course, underground housing like that does require extra labor to build; maybe the Hobbits used some slave labor force to build them.

they dont live in the desert (1)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43882953)

they live in a green hillside around a lake.

Re:To Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882299)

Well, we *aren't* surprised that tornados form, in fact we're quite used to them. The rather unnerving part of this recent spate of them is the immense size and power. Historically you might have the occasional huge tornado every few years, but the vast majority are smaller far less destructive things. They also tended to stay out of the big cities. This spring has seen several monsters rolling right through town.

As for the schools, new ones have safe rooms built in (haven't seen much retrofitting on older schools) but I wonder if they are rated to withstand these "grinders". We traditionally don't build cellars / basements in smaller buildings but perhaps it's time to reconsider... Though then I wonder about flooding. Last night's round of storms brought torrential rainfall and I'd hate to be protected from the tornado only to drown in a flooded basement.

Dome (1)

Reliable Windmill (2932227) | about a year ago | (#43882053)

Perhaps not as space efficient, but I'm thinking a dome-shaped building with strong anchoring would be excellent. The winds would just caress over it, with nothing to grab hold of.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882071)

The thing withstands 310 MPH winds and it's just "OK"? Tough crowd...

Re:Huh? (1)

Skapare (16644) | about a year ago | (#43882873)

Because it is known that tornado winds can reach at least 320 MPH.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882885)

Considering that the May 3rd 1999 tornado had radar measured speeds of 301+/-20 mph and another estimate of 318mph, yep, just OK.

obligatory GoT reference (1)

doubleu606 (764072) | about a year ago | (#43882111)

Apparently John Snow DOES know something!

Re:obligatory GoT reference (1)

lazlo (15906) | about a year ago | (#43883513)

I know! I mean, he's a professor of meteorology, so I'd guess he probably as some idea of when winter is coming.

Building code (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year ago | (#43882139)

Why aren't the building codes in that area either requiring that or at least storm shelters? That school falling over was just bizarre. I am willing to bet that they have spent much time and money training for school shootings while ignoring the giant storms that rush by quite often.

why dont cars have 100MPH bumpers (2)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43882263)

because the statistics dont justify it ??

more people die from drownings than tornados.

Re:why dont cars have 100MPH bumpers (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#43882479)

Tell it to these people: http://weather.aol.com/2013/05/21/photos-devastating-tornado-strikes-moore-okla/ [aol.com]
In Oklahoma, weather comes to YOU.
In Oklahoma city 149 tornadoes had come to town since 1890 as of last fall. With this spring's new crop, it now stands at 151 or maybe 152. So tornadoes-near-you in Oklahoma are pretty much an annual event. A direct hit where you are is a little less likely. But dangerous weather and seriously damaged buildings don't require a direct hit. Evidence suggests that bigger tornadoes are getting more common. Two massive storms (one with an EF5 and this latest with 3 smaller twisters) in less than two weeks within a few miles of each other! Even these smaller twisters killed 5 people and injured dozens more.
It really is time to consider whether critical infrastructure ought to be built do withstand at least anything less than a direct hit (say, 150 MPH winds) and whether building standards for homes and other places where people spend a lot of time (such as schools) ought to include a tornado shelter.

Re:why dont cars have 100MPH bumpers (1)

LDAPMAN (930041) | about a year ago | (#43882683)

All new schools here have been built with storm shelters for many years. The schools that were just destroyed were built in the 60s.

Re:why dont cars have 100MPH bumpers (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#43883423)

I can't find dates of construction to verify that but:
  • Are you thinking people in the 1960s in Oklahoma didn't understand the risk of tornadoes?
  • Are you thinking that retrofitting storm shelters in or at older schools isn't possible?

Re:why dont cars have 100MPH bumpers (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#43882685)

Yes, but that's only in OK. If you look at the statistics nationwide, not many people die of tornadoes. Because of this, we can't build tornado-resistant things, even in OK where tornadoes are concentrated, because we Americans aren't smart enough to realize that different localities have to do things differently.

no i mean in oklahoma (1)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43883031)

more people die of drowning during tornado wetaher than die of tornados.

ergo we should spend more money on preventing flood deaths than tornado deaths.

Re:no i mean in oklahoma (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#43883225)

Sorry, didn't realize that statistic was OK-specific.

But when you say "drowning", do you mean from floods, or from pool accidents, or both? You can do something about flooding, but there's not much you can do about pool accidents beyond either education or banning swimming pools. You could mandate fences around pools to try to keep kids out, but that's not something for government tax dollars to be spent on (the pool owner has to pay for things like that).

my grandparents lived in oklahoma (1)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43883025)

they built a house using their bare hands during the great depression. and they had a storm cellar. not enough spare income from their website gigs to build 8 inch concrete walls i guess.

but hey, thanks for the judgemental lecture. very helpful.

Re:my grandparents lived in oklahoma (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#43883097)

they built a house using their bare hands during the great depression. and they had a storm cellar. not enough spare income from their website gigs to build 8 inch concrete walls i guess.

but hey, thanks for the judgemental lecture. very helpful.

You just told me that your grandparents built a safer house than present day builders typically build and sell in Oklahoma and most other tornado-prone places. Why are commercial home builders allowed to make and sell houses that wouldn't have been considered safe enough by 1920s Oklahoma residents?

Re:Building code (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882319)

Not just training for school shootings, some schools are paying for armed security guards, one district I visit has shelled out for a fancy computer system for parents and visitors to "check in" with - prints a sticker with your name and photo (which is so dark you can't ID someone with it anyway), they are even implementing construction projects at some schools to add "security vestibules" to the buildings.

Many of those buildings have no safe rooms or shelters. Haven't seen any projects to install those. Perhaps that'll change this year...

So much money wasted on an emotional reaction that could certainly be better spent elsewhere.

low govt regulation ideology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43884501)

Oklahoma is one of the parts of the country with a populace that believes in low government regulation, and strict housing codes would go against that. Besides, the torando destroyed less than 2% of the houses in the Oklahoma city area. I bet most houses reach 30 or 40 years without tornado trouble. It might be cheaper just to build to lower quality standards, and buy insurance.

Or maybe... (2)

caxis (855664) | about a year ago | (#43882189)

... or maybe they could just build a regular data center somewhere else?

Re:Or maybe... (1)

rgmoore (133276) | about a year ago | (#43882217)

Yeah, because nowhere else in the USA is subject to natural disasters, and there's no cost to locating your data center a long way from the business it's supposed to be serving.

Re:Or maybe... (1)

trparky (846769) | about a year ago | (#43882567)

There are parts of upper north east of the United States, places like Michigan and Ohio that haven't seen a tornado in years. That's where I live, North East Ohio. The nastiest thing we normally see in North East Ohio is a massive snow storm. Big deal.

tornado proof data centers. (1)

palerider (79211) | about a year ago | (#43882283)

Sabre built a data center in tulsa that's tornado proof. to all outward appearances, it's an empty field surrounded by chain link fencing and razor wire. then they sold it to eds. *shakes head*

Re:tornado proof data centers. (2)

Captain Hook (923766) | about a year ago | (#43884577)

Couldn't the tornado just lay some blankets over the razor wire and climb over?

Next: white walker countermeasures (1)

sammy baby (14909) | about a year ago | (#43882303)

"The area around and to the southwest of Oklahoma City, where more tornadoes were striking Friday night, 'has perhaps the greatest frequency of tornadoes in the U.S.,' said John Snow, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.

Hurricane season is coming.

Re:Next: white walker countermeasures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883099)

I have the feeling the Professor wouldn't be happy until the wall is 700 feet high and 300 miles long.

8.5 inches? Huh? (4, Interesting)

bradley13 (1118935) | about a year ago | (#43882317)

Are we supposed to be impressed with 8.5 inches of concrete in the walls? In much of Europe, that's pretty close to normal residential construction, nothing special. Ok, maybe they are including more steel - I surely hope so - but it's still nothing special.

In Moore, the school where children were trapped under rubble and drowned because they couldn't escape the flooding: This school had no designated safe room from burst water mains. This is "tornado alley" we're talking about - the last time that Moore was flattened was just 15 years ago! What kind of idiot builds a school in that area that cannot stand up to tornados and has no shelter to retreat to? In this area, tinkertoy construction ought to be forbidden in government buildings, and utterly uninsurable in private ones.

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#43882509)

Europeans make private residences with 8.5 inch thick concrete walls? Ugh, concrete is so soulless. I prefer natural materials.

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882571)

Usually fired clay brick actually. Perfectly natural material.
Many of the social housing houses near here though are 6" concrete, 4" insulation then another 6" of concrete. Steel reinforced in some ways but I wouldn't describe it as reinforced concrete.
Inch thick concrete roof tiles too.

They even have 'outhouses' too which used to house the coal cellar and outdoor toilet. Those damn things are all concrete and rebar. Takes an age to demolish.
Perfect storm shelter. Not sure where they thought they were building really. Not seen a twister since the eighties.

Insurance (1)

dlt074 (548126) | about a year ago | (#43882517)

Even before this latest rash of storms, it was common to find insurance companies not writing new policies in OK. Premiums are noticeably more then elsewhere for single family homes.

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882537)

Of course its the norm. You need to protect yourselves every time some crazed dictator decides to take over the continent and starts bombing.

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882581)

Are we supposed to be impressed with 8.5 inches of concrete in the walls? In much of Europe, that's pretty close to normal residential construction, nothing special.

Block or actual poured concrete? Big difference.

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883043)

Are we supposed to be impressed with 8.5 inches of concrete in the walls? In much of Europe, that's pretty close to normal residential construction, nothing special.

Block or actual poured concrete? Big difference.

Elements nowadays. 80 years ago poured. The building I live in has ~65 cm walls.

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (2)

LDAPMAN (930041) | about a year ago | (#43882705)

The schools that were destroyed were built in the 60s. All new schools have been built with storm shelters for many years now. Also, the "died by flooding" turned out to be inaccurate.

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882781)

The school was built in the 70s if not earlier than that, and building safe rooms and underground shelters is expensive. Oklahoma is not a rich state by any means; when you stop to consider that it's very conservative and has been on huge sprees of spending cuts for a long time now... what did you expect?

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882803)

8.5 inches is typical wall thickness for concrete tilt up construction in every industrial park in America. Keeping the roof on so the walls don't fall seems to be more important.

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (2)

Xyrus (755017) | about a year ago | (#43883179)

Unfortunately 8.5 inches of concrete is not going to withstand 300 MPH winds. Why? Because those 300MPH winds are also carrying things like trees, cars, trucks, chunks of asphalt, girders, cows, and other debris which will grind those 8.5 concrete walls into rubble. Look at the aftermath photos from any EF4 or EF5 tornado and see what's left standing. Even buildings made to withstand tornadoes are total losses.

If they really wanted to make their data center "tornado proof" then they should have built it underground like a regular storm shelter. Then they'd also get the added benefit of lowered AC costs.

BTW, no children drowned in the Moore school. That was misreported. Also, for a tornado that size there's really no such thing as a "safe room" above ground.

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883269)

Most CTU isn't that thick, nor does it have the amount of rebar that is needed to resist projectiles. For large buildings, resisting the loads from wind pressure on a big flat wall is a bigger issue than projectiles. Standard CMU (concrete blocks) filled with grout and rebar in every cell will resist the largest known projectiles, etc. Poured concrete the same. It's more about how you tie those panels together, and, in particular, as noted, keeping the roof on. While walls are often plenty thick and resistant, a glue-lam beam or steel truss and panel type roof is only designed to withstand the rain and snow loads, not big heavy stuff dropping on it. Relatively few single story buildings are made with 6" thick concrete roofs.

Big debris (cows, girders) doesn't move that fast, even in a 250-300 mi/hr wind. It tends to roll along the ground or tumble. Trains and trucks don't so much get carried aloft, they roll and bounce into the air and then get pushed along. At no time are they going at the prevailing wind speed.

There are NUMEROUS cases of above ground safe rooms standing up after the EF5 tornado comes through. Look for those pictures of the slab swept clean (a sure sign of EF5) with the phone booth thing sticking up.

Re:8.5 inches? Huh? (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43883943)

Given their propensity to bombing one another into rubble every few generations I'm not surprised at the desire for quick, simple, ruggedized construction.

Not that impressive. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43882357)

Go google for FEMA P-361 or P-320 and you'll get all the data and construction drawings.

There are two aspects of design here: the first, particularly for smaller structures like safe rooms in houses, is resistance to projectiles. The standard projectile for testing is a 15 lb 2x4 going 100 mi/hr. Texas Tech has a cannon that shoots them for testing. They've done a lot of analysis and review of actual tornadoes and have determined that this is the appropriate projectile: resist that, and you'll resist almost anything else from storms bigger than any actual recorded. Big stuff goes slower, small stuff goes faster, but it's all about momentum and impact pressure, and just like medieval knights, a heavy long skinny thing going fast is an effective projectile.

the second aspect is the force of the wind pushing the wall over, which is a big deal for larger structures (think gymnasiums, auditoriums, etc.). There, you design for the 250/300/350 mi/hr wind or whatever. 250 mi/hr = 160 lb/square foot. Note that in states like California, you probably already have this for free, because you have to design for seismic loads, which are comparable.

As to the school that was destroyed. It was built a long time ago. Retrofits of big structures are expensive. It takes a series of disasters to motivate compliance. In California, the Long Beach quake of 33 resulted in the Field Act (no unreinforced masonry in schools) but still, Sylmar in the 71 resulted in several catastrophic failures of things like hospitals. So the laws were updated to apply to more things. Loma Prieta and Whittier prompted even more.. in fact, I think Whittier is when they really started cracking down on reinforcing masonry, and not allowing existing structures to be grandfathered. Northridge in 94 also resulted in some changes, particularly for things like bolting houses to foundations.

But the point here is that it took 80 years from the first laws about earthquake resistance to the present day, where most stuff is just built to take it. A Civil Engineer being interviewed in Joplin MO commented that making a new hospital tornado resistant only added about 3% to the cost. Doing it as a retrofit is a lot more expensive. Consider an elementary school with 500 students: their annual budget is around $3.7M (http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/11f33pub.pdf, $7600/student) A very tiny fraction of that is available for construction projects, I'd be surprised if it's 1%. You're not going to retrofit a school built in the 60s out of concrete blocks and no rebar for $40k, or even $400k. FEMA estimates that a single family shelter would cost about $5000 to build. Building something to hold 500 students plus 60 staff is a big project: at 5 square feet/person, that's several thousand square feet, and you need to have enough doors for getting those 600 people in and out. And that's 3000 square feet that has to be kept fairly open: no using it for storage. (multipurpose rooms and cafeterias are popular). The other problem is that safe rooms are, by nature, kind of depressing places to be in: they have no windows and limited doors.

Wind, sure... (1)

xyourfacekillerx (939258) | about a year ago | (#43882779)

It might be able to withstand the wind, but what about flying cows and other debris carried by the wind?

Re:Wind, sure... (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | about a year ago | (#43882851)

Or flying farm houses.

Re:Wind, sure... (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43884021)

Or witches?

Re:Wind, sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883531)

The heaver a projectile is the slower it goes. Small projectiles like 2x4s are supposed to be the most dangerous because of their weight to speed ratio.

i wanted to move to Sooner State (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883047)

i was thinking of moving to Oklahoma. maybe have a two story house with a basement. until I saw the television footage of the severe storms on the cable news network. just saying.

hopefully the data center has a huge generator in case the power goes out for a week.

Bogosity bullshit... (1)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | about a year ago | (#43883091)

Design builder here with tornado and snow load experience, SO that tilt-up concrete structure with flat roof can NOT withstand an uplift load on 10,000 sq. ft. of roof structure. That's the primary design flaw on first principles. Exterior mechanicals, chillers, solar arrays and electrical gear only survive IF nothing crashes into them during a category EF5 tornado.

What are the chances?

Re:Bogosity bullshit... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883323)

another PE here.. I agree. You could put the mechanicals in suitable enclosures, etc. with a reinforced roof. You could design a 10,000 sf building with a sufficiently rigid and strong roof (not much different than designing for parking decks and what not). Wind pressure is a few hundred pounds/sf, so it's like building a water tank to hold a 3 feet of water. You need to keep the window and door size down so that you don't pressurize the inside of the building, but for a data center, that should be easy. Not going to be using any roll-up doors though. One of the guys in Norman or at TTU was commenting that the garage is what blows houses down in hurricanes and tornados.. the garage door is weak and fails in from wind pressure, then the garage acts like a big sail, and rips off the house taking structural members with it, after that it's like peeling a banana or onion.

Solar arrays? I think they'll just be history.. no good way to let the sun in and keep the wind out. Giant doors that cover them when a storm approaches like a James Bond movie villian's secret lair, perhaps? Easier to just excavate your data center in a disused mine or something.

Re:Bogosity bullshit... (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | about a year ago | (#43883921)

as far as the solar panels go could they not be designed with some sort of "breakaway" mounts set to say 98% of what would endanger the roof?? (the panels if you found them later would be scrap but what are the chances that they would function anyway after that kind of pounding??)

New meme (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | about a year ago | (#43883457)

"In Oklahoma, storm chases YOU".

Can it survive *cars* at 310 MPH??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43883847)

Look, 310mph winds aren't that big a deal - airplanes go faster than that all the time and they are fragile. It's about what's *in* the wind that's also travelling at 310mph, like wood beams, rocks, bricks, and cars. Can their building survive that? No. An F5 tornado is not survivable above ground, period. It's not the wind; it's the debris.

Maybe I'm missing the point (1)

Vrtigo1 (1303147) | about a year ago | (#43884661)

Ok, maybe I'm missing the point, but isn't it a lot easier to build stuff to survive a hurricane or tornado if it's underground? That would be my assumption based on the notion of a storm cellar or other type of "bunker" being constructed underground. So, why not just build datacenters 10-20 feet underground? Essentially you would treat it like a basement, but without a building on top of it. I could see flooding as being an issue, but couldn't you just excavate another 30-40 feet below the floor of the datacenter and give water somewhere to go? The water would have to fill up that space before it became a concern to you, and I would assume that if you designed it in such a way that you never expect water to get down there in the first place then if you put pumps to deal with any water that does come in it shouldn't be too hard for them to keep up with any water that does.

The biggest problem in OK is not wind (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#43884789)

The biggest problem in OK is not wind... it's all the crap that got picked up by the wind, and is being slammed into your specially designed structure at 300MPH.

Just like the biggest problem for structures in hurricanes is not actually the wind, it's the water and debris that's getting slammed into them by the hurricane.

Datacenter in Oklahoma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43884919)

The real question is what idiot decided building a datacenter in Oklahoma was a good idea in the first place? I wouldn't store my compost pile there.

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