WCPO I-Team: Warehouses not required to offer storm shelters

UC associate professor James Swanson explains construction standards after deadly storms

WCPO's I-Team turned to a University of Cincinnati construction expert to explain how commercial construction standards measure up against deadly storms like last week's tornadoes that killed factory and warehouse workers.

Tornadoes swept across the Midwest on Friday, killing more than 90 people in Kentucky and Illinois. Six people were killed at a warehouse in Illinois while another eight people died at a candle factory in Kentucky.

Portrait of James Swanson.

UC associate professor James Swanson.

WCPO spoke to James Swanson, an associate professor of civil engineering in UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science. He has studied how structures hold up to wind and has conducted research on bridges, steel construction and other civil engineering topics.

Swanson said warehouses should contain hardened shelters designed to withstand storm damage. Today's construction takes wind storms into account, Swanson said. If building codes are followed, workers should be safe from all but the most extreme storms, Swanson told WCPO.

"The highest winds that we would see in the state of Ohio, for example, are in the order of 70 to 80 miles per hour and we design for about 105," Swanson said. "I think the codes are fairly well-developed in this case and I feel like they're appropriate."

Watch the WCPO I-Team report.

Featured image at top: UC associate professor James Swanson talks to WCPO over web chat about the deadly storms that swept across the Midwest on Friday. Photo/WCPO

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