As part of a severe weather special, Chandlor Gyorke from CBS 19 in Tyler, TX, visited the Hypervelocity Impact Laboratory (HVIL) on Friday, April 8, 2022. The HVIL researchers weighed in on the importance of seeking proper safety during a tornado. The HVIL experimental setup, typically geared toward launching projectiles to velocities ranging 1.5–8.0 km/s (3,400–18,000 mph), was modified to perform supporting impact experiments at velocities consistent with peak tornado wind speeds (200–300 mph). The modified setup and corresponding high-rate diagnostics were used to study the response of sample building materials (e.g., plywood and drywall) and representative exterior wall structures. The experiments showed that projectiles impacting at 200 to 300 mph had residual (exit) velocities 25–50% lower than the impact velocity depending on target (i.e., representative “wall”) construction. Furthermore, the results of these tests emphasize the importance of maximizing the number of walls between those at risk and the exterior (e.g., seeking shelter in a centrally located room or space).
Video Credit: CBS 19 2022 (https://www.cbs19.tv)