Are any sides of a building safer during a hurricane?

I’m in South Florida, bracing for Hurricane Floyd which seems to be headed straight for us. And someone here at work was talking about how the west side of a structure would be safer in a hurricane coming in from the east. Barring any spin-off tornados, which would render the question moot, is a certain side of a structure any safer?

I suppose if the direction of the wind is constant, this might hold true. But the way I see it, if the hurricane is gradually moving over a given point, the direction of the winds will change relative to your position inside the hurricane. I tried to tell this to people who are only shuttering certain sides of their houses, but to no avail. Who’s right and who’s house is going to land in Oz?

It depends where the eye of the hurricane is as it passes you. If the eye is south of your location, then the winds will batter the east side of your building mostly. If the eye is north of you, the winds (weakened over land) can batter the west side of your building. If the eye passes through your area, then wind will mostly start coming from north of you and shift to the south after the eye passes. I’m sure I’ve over-simplified it and the experts will come up with much more.

One of the concerns is when the storm hits
the wind will be going one direction, when
the storm eye passes, (depending on where you are in relation to the eye), the wind will be going the opposite way.

The best wall to be against? The one in Atlanta attached to the hotel you went to for a nice big-city vacation while Floyd raged on.


The snozberries taste like snozberries!

Didn’t i hear somewhere that, if you need to hide from a tornado in your basement or whatever, there is a particular corner of the basement that is the safest? I wonder if this would apply for something the scale of a hurricane.

The safest side of a building during severe weather is, of course, the inside.

Hey, stf – conventional wisdom (folklore) here in Iowa says the northwest corner of your basement is the place to be during a tornado.

I’ve seen tornado damage though and don’t think it would have made the slightest difference.

But I go to the NW corner anyway – what can it hurt?

I’m in Tampa, and we aren’t concerned with safety right now, we are laying down bets on whether we get to miss school or not!

When I rule the world with an iron fist, I’ll have a bomb shelter, which would definitely be the safest place.

"No job’s too small, we bomb them all."
-Ace Wrecking Company

Hey, Voltare! I was raised in hurricaneland and went through a few (and the eye of Bulah–1968). Is any side of a building “safer” than another? That depends. If you’re in a mobile home or any other manufactured building there is no safe side.
Those are the first to go. And they go early.
Okay place in a hurricane: a brick building BUILT TO CODE(!) on land that is above average terrain and (therefore) not in a floodway.

I am going to agree with Doug and take it another step.

I too have been through several (3) hurricanes. Most importantly; Do Not Drink! A hurricane party might seem like a kick until your roof lifts off. You want your wits fully functional in case of catastrophe.

Second a good solid structure built to code is the place to be. Unfortunately this isn’t always enough. To quote my friend after Iniki, “We were doing fine until the neighbor’s garage landed on us.”

Lastly, get the hell out of innundation zones. The last place you want to find yourself during a storm is in the ocean.

As far as to which side? A family I knew survived by hiding in the hall closet. It was situated near center of the house, under a beam. The closed door and the walls were all that was standing in the aftermath. I lived next to them in a tent on the beach for about a month. Nice people, though I sensed they were a little more care free a month prior to our aquaintance.

I just fled Savannah, GA. Floyd’s projected to hit between there and Hilton Head, SC at the moment. In the dinky glassed dorm where I was, I doubt there’s a single side that would be any better. Iron railings, maybe, but not glass windows. I agree that buildings built to code have a better chance than others, but the whole area where I was will most likely get deluged by the storm surge. And, BTW, when did they stop calling tidal waves that?

If the structure has a basement, I’d say the underside.


I am quite ignorant when it comes to weather patterns, so I’m going to ask a really dippy question: AuntiePam said she heard to go to the northwest corner of a building during a tornado, but she’s in a different state than I am. Here in Michigan, I’ve always been told to go to the southeast corner. So, do tornados move in different directions in different parts of the country? I realize that tornados will go wherever they bloody well want to, but I’m wondering if there’s any sort of tornado-direction-consistency here.

Ummm, no thanks. No need to drive 600 miles to put myself closer to the hurricanes’ path. And what was that about “big-city vacation?” I said I live in South Florida, I don’t need to go to BF-Georgia to be in a big city. If I had wanted to evacuate and have a vacation at the same time, I would have gone even farther down south to the Keys which were unaffected. Besides, the hurricane missed us anyway. We barely got a sprinkle of rain, although there were some moderately strong winds.

I dunno, unfortunately we’re at sea level here and any basement, if you could get through the coral, would be flooded with water.

Just a guess…

I’d say the best place is the outside at the east wall. And not right up against it. One should stand away from it. About 100 miles is usually sufficient. :wink:

Just wonderful! I come up with a fairly clever, smart-ass answer, and I screw it up with my lousy sense of direction. Typical. I meant the west wall. There, isn’t that funnier?