Buying a House During Tornado Season: Are You Seeking Shelter in Your New Home?

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My husband and I were in Frisco at the Rough Riders game last Thursday when all of a sudden we saw a dark wall cloud heading near us. There were no sirens, no warnings from the announcer, and then we saw a funnel-like cloud branch off just north of Dr Pepper Ballpark. Of course, when I heard that severe weather may sprout up, I immediately asked guest relations where we could seek shelter in the event of a storm. Later that evening I got to thinking: Where would our family seek shelter if a tornado was headed our way?


Last week’s severe weather and tornado in Greenville has made investing in a storm shelter a big priority for our family. We all grew up hearing that we should head to the center of a house, or make a bunker in the bathtub, but what if we’re facing an EF-5 tornado like the town of Moore, Okla.?

After that record-breaking 1.3-mile wide storm, which reduced a town to rubble along its 17-mile path and killed 24 people, the National Wind Institute did a survey of storm shelters in the area. After the May 20th storm, the NWI found 16 intact above-ground shelters, proving that certified above-ground storm shelters can withstand the 210 mph winds that destroyed everything else in the tornado’s path.

Of course, the key issue is getting a “certified” storm shelter, not one built by anyone with a concrete truck and a welding torch. In fact, the research lab at Texas Tech helped found the National Storm Shelter Association, which makes sure the shelter you buy can withstand the force of even the most dangerous storms. These contractors use data-driven design to build the most secure and well-constructed safe rooms and shelters that stand up to rigorous standards.

So what should you look for in a home with a storm shelter or safe room? First, make sure it was constructed by an NSSA certified contractor. If it wasn’t, the safe room or shelter should have a sealed engineering report that verifies its resistance to debris impact, as the NSSA suggests. If the shelter or safe room doesn’t meet either of these standards, the NSSA has a list of qualifications that should be met to make sure the above-ground safe room or tornado shelter will protect you and your family should a storm hit.

Of course, if you’re considering installing a safe room or storm shelter in your existing home, or considering putting one in your new home, the NSSA has a list of certified contractors that can build and install a shelter that can withstand even the most dangerous storms. Installing a safe room or storm shelter is a sound investment, one that, if done by a certified contractor, will provide added value to your home over time.

Is a storm shelter on your list of “musts” for your next home? Or are you planning to install one?



Joanna England

If Executive Editor Joanna England could house hunt forever, she absolutely would. Instead she covers the North Texas housing market and the economy for While she started out with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Joanna's work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News as well as several local media outlets. When she's not knitting or hooping, or enjoying White Rock Lake, she's behind the lens of her camera. She lives in East Dallas with her husband, son, and their furry and feathered menagerie.

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