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Moore, Oklahoma, Tornado of 2013

Performance of Schools and Critical Facilities


William L. Coulbourne, P.E.; David O. Prevatt, Ph.D., P.E.; T. Eric Stafford, P.E.; Christopher C. Ramseyer, Ph.D., P.E.; and John M. Joyce, P.E.

2015 / 64 pp.
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Sponsored by the Structural Engineering Institute of ASCE

On May 20, 2013, the third violent tornado in 14 years tore through Moore, Oklahoma, creating a path of destruction through dense residential areas and damaging several critical facilities. Nearly 1,100 single-family homes were leveled, and 24 people died. Moore, Oklahoma, Tornado of 2013: Performance of Schools and Critical Facilities presents the observations, findings, and recommendations of a team of structural engineers and construction specialists who assessed the structural damage to nonresidential buildings. The team—all of whom had extensive experience in the design and construction of buildings to resist high-wind events and in the assessment of tornado damage—investigated the tornado's effect on schools, a medical center, and buildings supported by long-span structural systems. They found that the most common structural failures related to masonry and steel framing.

Topics include:

  • a history of significant tornado events in Moore, Oklahoma;
  • results of damage assessments and a summary of observations for a medical center, five schools, a bowling alley, and a strip mall;
  • a survey of building codes and relevant standards used in Moore; and
  • conclusions with recommendations.

An appendix discusses the Enhanced Fujita scale and presents estimates for several locations in Moore.

The damage assessments and, more importantly, the recommendations for strengthening new and existing critical facilities will be of interest to structural engineers, architects, building owners, local officials, and code developers working to reduce the damage caused by high-wind events.