Lessons Learned from the Damage Produced by the Tornadoes of 3 May 1999

Charles A. Doswell III NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Harold E. Brooks NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

After the tornadoes of 3 May 1999, the Federal Emergency Management Agency formed a Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) to examine the main tornado paths during the outbreak and to make recommendations based on the damage they saw. This is the first time a tornado disaster has been subjected to a BPAT investigation. Some aspects of the BPAT final report are reviewed and considered in the context of tornado preparedness in Kansas and Oklahoma. Although the preparedness efforts of many public and private institutions apparently played a large role in reducing casualties from the storm, a number of building deficiencies were found during the BPAT's evaluation. Especially in public facilities, there are several aspects of tornado preparedness that could be improved. Moreover, there is clear evidence that a nonnegligible fraction of the damage associated with these storms could have been mitigated with some relatively simple and inexpensive construction enhancements. Widespread implementation of these enhancements would reduce projectile loading and its associated threats to both life and property.

Current affiliation: Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, Norman, Oklahoma

Corresponding author address: Dr. Charles A. Doswell III, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, The University of Oklahoma, Sarkeys Energy Center, 100 East Boyd St., Room 1110, Norman, OK 73019-1011. Email: cdoswell@hoth.gcn.ou.edu

Abstract

After the tornadoes of 3 May 1999, the Federal Emergency Management Agency formed a Building Performance Assessment Team (BPAT) to examine the main tornado paths during the outbreak and to make recommendations based on the damage they saw. This is the first time a tornado disaster has been subjected to a BPAT investigation. Some aspects of the BPAT final report are reviewed and considered in the context of tornado preparedness in Kansas and Oklahoma. Although the preparedness efforts of many public and private institutions apparently played a large role in reducing casualties from the storm, a number of building deficiencies were found during the BPAT's evaluation. Especially in public facilities, there are several aspects of tornado preparedness that could be improved. Moreover, there is clear evidence that a nonnegligible fraction of the damage associated with these storms could have been mitigated with some relatively simple and inexpensive construction enhancements. Widespread implementation of these enhancements would reduce projectile loading and its associated threats to both life and property.

Current affiliation: Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, Norman, Oklahoma

Corresponding author address: Dr. Charles A. Doswell III, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, The University of Oklahoma, Sarkeys Energy Center, 100 East Boyd St., Room 1110, Norman, OK 73019-1011. Email: cdoswell@hoth.gcn.ou.edu

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