World's First Portable Storm Shelters - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

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World's First Portable Storm Shelters

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Tornadoes--they are an unstoppable force of nature.

"Winds can be as strong as 200 miles or more in a tornado. So it can produce very devastating damages in a short period of time," said José Garcia, National Weather Service meteorologist in charge.

A new storm shelter, by Red Dog International of Amarillo (RDI), can face those winds and more.

"This device will withstand any force created by an F4 or F5 tornado," said Oscar Scott, president of Red Dog International, as he gave NewsChannel 10 an exclusive look at the shelters.

The contraption is the world's only portable storm shelter. It is designed to protect workers at construction sites or oil rigs, especially those that change location on a regular basis.

"We can be there waiting for the crew, by the time it leaves location one, before it arrives to location two, safety will be sitting there waiting for them," Scott said.

Meteorologists say the unpredictable nature of tornadoes reduces reaction time. And for people in remote areas, this increases risk of fatalities.

"So places like oil rigs, places that are out in the open, these type of shelters would be very helpful," Garcia said.  

A few months ago, one area business approached Scott for a shelter he could use at several locations. At the time, Scott had been working on the idea. Now, he is working with some area industries that work in remote areas and are at high risk during severe weather season.

"The employer now has the ability, not only to protect against man-made hazards, but also protect his employees, which is his most valuable asset, against natural hazards, as well. Which are plenty here in tornado alley," he said.  

In addition, the mobile shelters provide protection from explosive blasts, fast-moving prairie fires, and poisonous gases.


How it works 

The shelters have a built-in hydraulic system, which uses 40,000 pounds of pressure on each side to keep the shelter grounded. In addition, the device's four outriggers provide stability and prevents the shelter from sliding.

Once the shelter is in place, RDI tests its capabilities with a "hydraulic verification system." This creates uplift and overturning forces on the shelter that are equal to the power of an EF-5 tornado.

The shelters come in two different sizes. The Grizzly  is about 80 sq ft and can fit up to 15 people. The other model, Kodiak, is twice the size and can hold 30 people.  

They are certified to meet or exceed tornado safety standards by several national agencies: FEMA, The National Storm Shelter Association, The American Society of Civil Engineers, the International Code Council, The American National Standards Institute.

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