Canadian building codes don’t care about tornadoes-even though we see the second most in the world
Fran Ferguson said she usually doesn’t take severe weather warnings very seriously, but something—perhaps a feeling or the way the wind blows on Thursday, July 15—makes the warning different.
When the resident of Barrie, Ontario received an alert on her mobile phone, she began to prepare her cellar, putting her wallet, important medicines and her dog’s bed in a place where she knew they would be safe.
Ten minutes later, the EF-2 tornado hit.
“Suddenly, the power went out. I looked up and heard a sound like a freight train. I grabbed the dog and ran away.”
This is an unfortunate familiar story that repeats itself in Canada this summer. On average, the country records more tornadoes each year than any other country in the world, except for the United States, which is about 60 per year-although meteorologists estimate that there are more tornadoes undetected.
However, the Canadian National Building Code seldom emphasizes the requirements to prevent uplift-the type of wind produced by tornadoes.
Although it is difficult to say whether climate change will cause an increase in tornadoes in Canada, our growing population has translated into a larger human footprint, which means that there are more buildings in places with forests or farmland in the past-opportunities created by tornadoes More damage to the structure of the human body.
“We are lucky that Canada did not die from tornadoes. But I don’t think we want to rely on luck for this, I think we want to rely on engineering,” said Greg Cope, ImpactWX Strong Storm Project Chairman and Principal Investigator of the Northern Tornado Project in Ontario Provincial University of West London.
For many years, Kopp has advocated the use of hurricane belts in accordance with Canadian Building Code requirements. Also called a hurricane clip, small metal brackets can help prevent the roof from flying apart by fixing each truss to the top of the wall.
“Adding the hurricane zone is less than a few hundred dollars per house, so I think this is a cost-effective measure,” he said.
Hurricane belts are effective under wind loads up to EF-2. Kopp said that most tornadoes in North America are EF-2 or lower.
Watch | How tornado damage analysis can help improve building codes:
Ferguson said that if she built a new house, she would consider this.
She managed to escape the tornado unharmed, and when she went outside to inspect her home, she said that it did not appear to be seriously damaged, except for a hole in the roof that needed to be repaired.
She was surprised to find that the roof she had used for three years needed to be completely replaced because the tar paper-the weatherproof layer between the plywood and shingles-was blown up by the wind, and the roof was separated in several places.
Ferguson said it might be a good idea to change the building code.
“If it can even save a few people, it is very worthwhile to me. Everything we can do to make our house safer, we should do it.”
MPs call for Ontario to update codes
The EF-2 tornado that hit Bari last week reached a maximum wind speed of 210 km/h, rendering approximately 60 houses uninhabitable and also displacing more than 100 people.
This was one of five tornadoes that landed in southern Ontario on July 15-all within EF-2 range.
One day a month ago, four tornadoes in southern Quebec landed within 1 hour and 15 minutes, killing a man in Mascus, Quebec.
Barrie City Councillor Natalie Harris hopes that if the building codes are updated, more deaths can be avoided in the future.
After experiencing the Barry Tornado first hand, she began to research whether it could prevent the damage to her city. This is how she finally talked to Kopp and joined his call for the hurricane belt.
When the tornado struck, Harris was visiting her 15-year-old son at her ex-husband’s house. The two rushed to the basement in time. When they came back to check the damage, Harris found that the roof was missing.
“I looked up at the stairs and I saw the sky,” she said. “My son, if he is in the room upstairs, I don’t even want to think about what will happen.”
Now Harris has launched her own call for Ontario to update its building codes to include requirements for protection from strong winds.
She will hold a meeting with stakeholders and provincial council members next week, and plans to submit a bill to the Bari City Council in August. Her actions Call on the city to propose changes to Ontario’s building codes and provide financial incentives to encourage homeowners who rebuild after a tornado to adopt strict wind resistance measures.
Harris has received support from other city council members and Barry Mayor Jeff Lehman, who described the plan as “a low-cost increase in construction methods that can help mitigate the damage in certain storms.”
For Harris, it’s simple: “It can prevent future deaths.”
Recommended, not mandatory, the association says
The idea of ??encouraging the use of hurricane belts in new buildings is also an issue that the Canadian Home Builders Association (CHBA) has been studying, even though the organization opposes the idea of ??enforcing these additional measures.
“In our view, before building codes begin to address this issue, we really need to better understand where tornadoes may hit, because the changes that need to be made to low-rise buildings like homes are very substantial,” CHBA Architecture Said Frank Lohmann, director of science.
“If we start to apply [these changes] Anywhere, this will increase the cost of housing in all areas, and it may not be necessary in all areas. “
He said that a better way forward may be to first develop a set of recommended tornado measures that can be applied voluntarily based on the location of the building and other factors (such as insurance incentives).
Lohmann said the association is currently participating in the development of best practice standards for the construction of low-rise structures that may be relatively intact during the EF2 tornado. The standard is expected to be released in 2022 for use by home builders, designers and contractors across Canada.