NORAD Commercial Tornado Shelters for Schools, Business & Communities

Commercial Tornado Shelters: How NORAD Shelter Systems® Commercial Underground Tornado Shelters Have a Lower Total Cost of Ownership and Protect People Better than Conventional Tornado Shelters

Commercial Tornado shelter hatch is almost invisible S24x80 Commercial Tornado Shelter


  • Protects People from 350 mph Flying Debris Without Shelter Damage
  • Exceeds FEMA 361 Guidelines
  • Exceeds ICC-500-2014 Specifications
  • 30-Year Structural Warranty
  • Minimal Post-Tornado Repairs (up to $3,000)
  • Minimal Post-Tornado Downtime (to replace solar and antenna)
  • Encourages Pre-Disaster Sheltering
  • Can Connect Underground to Existing Structures
  • Can Connect Underground to Other NORAD Tornado Shelters
  • 16, 24, 30 Foot Widths
  • Lengths from 80 ft.
  • Pre-Fabricated, Assembled On-Site
  • No Concrete to Crack or Mold
  • No Steel Corrosion
  • No Radon or Methane in Shelter
  • Emergency Communications System
  • 200 Person Shelter Installs in Approximately 7 Days
  • Conventional Flush Toilets
  • Conventional Bathroom Sinks
  • ADA Compliant Bathrooms Per ICC 500
  • Filtered, Cold Running Water
  • Uses Dedicated Drilled Drinking Water Well or Optional Tank and Pump Using Trucked-in Water (Customer supplies water)
  • LED Lighting
  • Self-Contained, Off-Grid
  • AC/DC Electrical Power
  • 8-10 Ft. Cathedral Ceilings
  • In-Wall Storage
  • 5 CFM/Person Fresh, Filtered Air
  • Large Entranceway, Second Entranceway Available
  • Steel, Spring-Loaded Hatches
  • Solar Powered AGM Non-Hydrogen Battery Bank
  • Constant Shelter Temperature, Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide and Moisture Levels
  • 16,000 Lb. Emergency Jack
  • Dual Use Classroom, Office
  • Meets Numerous Engineering Standards
  • Re-deployable
  • FEA Tested
  • Resists Buoyancy in High Water Tables
  • Hull, Air Manifolds, Hatches Resist Being Pulled Up
  • Easily Upgraded to Hazardous Materials Shelter
  • Includes Fire Extinguishers, Carbon Dioxide Detectors and Fire Alarms


The conventional approach to building commercial tornado shelters uses conventional construction technology, which does not protect people or structures very well. FEMA 361/ICC 500 require flying debris protection well below the weight, speed and size of debris reasonably expected from a strong tornado. Flying debris will still damage above ground concrete structures meeting FEMA/ICC, possibly requiring structural, electrical, plumbing and mechanical repairs that can cost many thousands of dollars and taking many months to complete.


NORAD Commercial Underground Tornado Shelters are UNCONVENTIONAL structures that sit beneath the damaging winds, literally out of harm’s way. Structural hardening and the earth cover protect people from 350 mph flying debris without causing shelter damage. NORAD Tornado Shelters protect people from greater than F5 tornadoes with a post-tornado re-fitting cost of no more than $3,000 to replace solar panels and antenna equipment.


Please view the NORAD Commercial Tornado Shelter prices on our underground shelter price page.

The NORAD Commercial Tornado Shelter is Much Safer and Has a Lower Total Cost of Ownership Than Conventional Tornado Shelters

Protects from 350 MPH Winds and Flying Debris Meets and Exceeds FEMA 361 2013 Meets and Exceeds ICC 500 2014 30 Year Structural Warranty
Conforms to Multiple Engineering Standards FEA (Functional Elemental Analysis) Tested the Same as Airplanes Patents Granted and Pending
No Concrete to Crack or Mold No Steel Corrosion No Radon in Shelter No Methane in Shelter
Shelter Will NOT Float Up to Water Table Air Manifolds will NOT Get Sucked Up into Tornado Hatches will NOT Get Sucked Up into Tornado Wide Entranceway Allows 1 Adult/5 Seconds Entry Time
Emergency Two-Way HAM Radio Emergency Multi-Channel Scanner 16,000 Lb. Hatch Jack AGM Non-Hydrogen Battery Bank
HAM Radio Multi-Channel Scanner
Ample Reading Light 5 ft3/Person Fresh, Filtered Air Bathroom Privacy Constant Shelter Temperature
Constant Shelter Oxygen Constant Shelter Carbon Dioxide Removal Constant Shelter Moisture Levels Many Times More Oxygen Pumped in Than is Required
8 to 10 Ft. Cathedral Ceilings 99% Usable Floor Space Reduced/Eliminated Claustrophobic Responses
NORAD Commercial Tornado Shelter costs more up front, but after one tornado the the NORAD is MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE than a conventional shelter. The Total Cost of Ownership is less because the NORAD Tornado Shelter REDUCES or ELIMINATES injuries, deaths, lawsuits, insurance claims and post-storm downtime. Wind and debris cannot reach it so wind and debris cannot damage it. While others are waiting for their tornado shelters to be repaired, NORAD Commercial Tornado Shelter owners enjoy a STRUCTURAL Warranty Against tornado damage.
Extremely Fast 7 to 14 Day Installation Window 200 Person Tornado Shelter Installs in Approximately 7 Days Minimal Post Tornado Repairs Warranty Usually Pays for Everything After First $3,000 in Damage Repair Costs
Minimal Post Tornado Downtime (to Replace Solar System and Radio Antennas) Encourages Sheltering BEFORE Debris Flies Minimizes or Eliminates Tornado Injuries and Deaths Minimizes or Eliminates Injury and Death Lawsuits
Reduces Insurance Risk Warranty Covers Structural Damage DUAL USE as Office, Classroom, Storage Room, Meeting Room, Theater, Art Room, Supervised Play Area, Supervised Daycare, Quiet Area, Reading Room
Connects Underground to Existing Structures Connects Underground to Other NORAD Tornado Shelters Smallest Shelter Protects 200 People Available in 16, 24 and 30 ft. Widths
Can Grow as Long (in 8 ft. Increments) as there is Suitable Land to Install Lengths from 80 Ft. Tremendous In-Wall Storage Pre-Fabricated
Assembled on Site
Conventional Flush Toilets Regular and ADA Sizes No Chemical Toilet Smell or Short Duration Conventional Bathroom Sinks
Fresh Filtered Cold Running Water Locking Bathroom Doors Bathroom Negative Air Pressure Removes Odors Plumbing Equipment and Installation
AC/DC Electrical Power Solar Powered Off-Grid Battery Bank

Ask for Our Report: How NORAD Tornado Shelters Meet and Exceed FEMA 361 and ICC 500 Tornado Shelter Specifications

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Flying debris is the main cause of tornado injuries and deaths. When people avoid hot, cramped conventional shelters until the tornado funnel is in sight they are more likely to get hit by flying debris on their way to the shelter. The NORAD goal is to get people to shelter PRE-DISASTER by supplying a spacious shelter environment with 8-10 ft. cathedral ceilings, plenty of bathrooms, cold running water, good lighting, fresh filtered air and a comfortable temperature.


Getting people to PRE-DISASTER shelter drastically reduces the chances of injuries and deaths from last-minute sheltering. PRE-DISASTER sheltering means people are safe well before the tornado arrives. By encouraging PRE-SHELTERING, NORAD Tornado Shelters reduce the fiscal and tragic costs of unnecessary tornado injuries and deaths. Tornado throws school bus onto school roofThe NORAD goal is for people to use the Tornado Shelter PRIOR to the disaster reaching the school or office building. The NORAD shelter design is large enough, designed well enough, and equipped well enough to promote PRE-DISASTER use. Staff and students can be in the shelter PRIOR to the tornado arriving on site which avoids large groups of people rushing to the shelter during high winds.

S16x80 tornado shelter
S16x80 Tornado Shelter

S16x80 Density Requirements: 1280 Ft2 Floor
People In Shelter 640 ft2 Floor @ 50% Reduction Ft2/Person 832 ft2 Floor @ 35% Reduction Ft2/Person 1088 ft2 Floor @ 15% Reduction Ft2/Person 15,000 ft3 Shelter Ft3/Person Hours. to 3% C02
25 26 33 44 600 27
50 13 17 22 300 13
75 9 11 15 200 9
100 6 8 11 150 7
150 4 6 7 100 4
200 3 4 5 75 3

S24x80 Commercial Tornado
S24x80 Commercial Tornado

S24x80 Density Requirements: 1920 Ft2 Floor
People In Shelter 960 ft2 Floor @ 50% Reduction Ft2/Person 1,248 ft2 Floor @ 35% Reduction Ft2/Person 1,632 ft2 Floor @ 15% Reduction Ft2/Person 22,540 ft3 Shelter Ft3/Person Hours. to 3% C02
10 96 125 163 2,254 101
25 38 50 65 902 40
50 19 25 33 451 20
75 13 17 22 301 13
100 10 12 16 225 10
150 6 8 11 150 7
200 5 6 8 113 5
250 4 5 7 90 4
300 3 4 5 75 3
350 3 4 5 64 3

S30x80 Commercial Tornado Shelter
S30x80 Commercial Tornado Shelter

S16x80 Density Requirements: 1280 Ft2 Floor
People In Shelter 640 ft2 Floor @ 50% Reduction Ft2/Person 832 ft2 Floor @ 35% Reduction Ft2/Person 1088 ft2 Floor @ 15% Reduction Ft2/Person 15,000 ft3 Shelter Ft3/Person Hours. to 3% C02
25 26 33 44 600 27
50 13 17 22 300 13
75 9 11 15 200 9
100 6 8 11 150 7
150 4 6 7 100 4
200 3 4 5 75 3

The S16x80 protects up to 200 people. The S24x80 protects up to 350 people. The S30x80 protects up to 400 people. Shelter lengths extend indefinitely in 8 ft. increments, as long as there is suitable land to install them. NORAD tornado shelters can be connected underground to each other and to existing structures. Tornado approaching Iowa School

Closed tornado shelter hatch not subject to horizontal flying debris
Closed tornado shelter hatch not subject to horizontal flying debris
S30x80 Commercial Underground Tornado Shelter
S30x80 Commercial Underground Tornado Shelter

Conventional tornado shelters are usually made of concrete which is subject to cracking and microbial growth. A conventional shelter meeting FEMA 361 and ICC  500 2014 missile guidelines must withstand a 15 lb. 2×4 traveling at 100 mph. A tornado can hurl a 3,000 lb. car at 220 mph, which would damage a conventional shelter’s walls, roof, plumbing and electrical systems. Damage would cost thousands of dollars while the population waited for months for repaired tornado shelter protection. A 220 mph 3,000 lb. car would not damage a NORAD Tornado Shelter or the people inside. The hull protecting people is underground. The hatches are flush with the ground. The air manifolds sit at a 15 degree angle approximately 5 inches above ground. Horizontal flying debris passes over the NORAD shelter. Even if the wind picked up a 20,000 lb. truck and dropped it on the shelter site, the earth above the shelter and the shelter’s seismic joints would protect the people inside as well as the shelter’s structural integrity. NORAD Commercial Underground Tornado Shelters protect against 350 mph flying debris. They come with a 30 year structural warranty which replaces broken hatches and air manifolds in the unlikely event that a horizontal debris crashes into or debris falls vertically onto the shelter site.

Tornado Shelter Exterior
Tornado Shelter Exterior
Corrosion Protection Anodes
Corrosion Protection Anodes


A buried galvanized tank or steel culvert becomes unsafe over time. Underground tornado shelter protection is superior to above ground concrete protection, but not if corrosion safeguards are missing. Underground steel without corrosion protection loses 2 to 5% of its strength each year. The steel rusts and weakens. A regular epoxy coating only slows down the corrosion process. A dielectric (electrically insulating) epoxy  coupled to a cathodic protection system with anodes directs the electrical corrosion process to the anodes and stops the corrosion process on the NORAD underground steel structure. Since corrosion is a natural process, tornado shelter companies only warranting against “defects in workmanship” can disclaim responsibility when tornado shelter owners report rust and hull weakening, leaving owners with shelters too corroded and therefore unsafe to use.


NORAD hulls are all steel with a 30-50 year cathodic corrosion protection system allowing for a 30-50 year structural warranty.  The system includes a meter to monitor the electrical corrosion protection process.  Protection can be upgraded to 40 or 50 years at installation, and can be re-applied at the end of the anode lifecycle to extend corrosion protection for another 30 to 50 years.

NORAD Tornado Shelters are Pre-Fabricated and Installed On-Site Usually in 7-14 Days
NORAD Tornado Shelters are Pre-Fabricated and Installed On-Site Usually in 7-14 Days


NORAD Tornado Shelters use no concrete. This steel tornado shelter installs quickly partly because it has no month-long concrete drying times.  The NORAD Tornado Shelter’s steel foundation is more structurally stable, more resilient and can take a greater ground shock than a reinforced concrete foundation. The steel foundation also acts as a barrier to radon and methane gas in the soil, which will permeate concrete and enter the shelter.


As schools and business grow they erect new structures, sometimes requiring the land occupied by an above ground conventional tornado shelter. Conventional tornado shelters built on-site cannot be moved. They must be taken down to make room for new structures. To expand the facilities the institutions destroy the existing shelters and the investment that went into them.


NORAD Tornado Shelters are made from steel hull sections that bolt together on site taking only about a week to install. They use no concrete which would require jack hammering to remove. Should land use plans change after the NORAD Tornado Shelter installation, NORAD shelters can be dug up and moved with no impact on the structure’s integrity and usefulness. There are removal and re-installation costs, but the shelter investment is not sacrificed. NORAD Tornado Shelters have maximum shelter re-deployability.

NORAD Tornado Shelter bathrooms have regular flush toilets and cold running water.
NORAD Tornado Shelter bathrooms have regular flush toilets and cold running water.
Tornado Shelter Septic Tank
Tornado Shelter Septic Tank
The S16x80 Commercial Tornado Shelter with Two Entranceways, Two Air Filtration Systems, In-Wall Storage, Bathrooms (ADA Compliant not Shown)
The S16x80 Commercial Tornado Shelter with Two Entranceways, Two Air Filtration Systems, In-Wall Storage, Bathrooms (ADA Compliant not Shown)


The NORAD Tornado Shelter uses solar power to run the conventional pressurized plumbing system. The shelter connects to a dedicated well for drinking water or to an optional water tank with trucked-in fresh water. Bathrooms have sewage lifts to the septic leach tank. Each bathroom has a sink with cold running water. At least one bathroom is ADA-compliant. There is a minimum of one bathroom per 50 people but NORAD shelters can easily accommodate more bathrooms per person. Bathrooms are under constant negative pressure to remove odors. The shelter uses conventional flush toilets rather than “port-a-potty” chemical toilets which can be unpleasant and limited in duration.


Tornado Shelter Air Filtration System
Tornado Shelter Air Filtration System
Tornado Shelter hardened steel air manifold
Tornado Shelter hardened steel air manifold
The NORAD Tornado Shelter Air Manifold is Protected from the Negative Pressure Sucking it Out of the Ground
The NORAD Tornado Shelter Air Manifold is Protected from the Negative Pressure Sucking it Out of the Ground

Fresh filtered air is brought into the tornado shelter by a 12-volt air blower designed to operate 24 hours per day and supplies many times the breathing volume of air required by adults. This system has the advantage of maintaining constant shelter temperature, constant shelter oxygen levels, constant shelter carbon dioxide levels, and constant shelter moisture levels, plus it prevents overheating which is common with manual air blowers in warm climates. In addition, this electric blower air supply system works with all people including young children, people who are sick, people who are injured, people who are handicapped, and people who are elderly who may not be able to operate a manual blower system during a disaster. Exhausting of hot, moist, spent air is facilitated through the air ceiling exhaust to the air manifold at ground level. This is an efficient method of exhausting spent air.

Tornado shelter hatch is above 100 year flood plain
Tornado shelter hatch is above 100 year flood plain
Tornado Shelter Wide Entrance
Tornado Shelter Wide Entrance

The NORAD Tornado Shelter has two entranceways each having a heavy steel spring-loaded hatch with a clear opening of  30  x 66 in. that is flush with the ground so it is not subject to flying debris. The emergency jack lifts 16,000 pounds off the hatch preventing people being trapped inside. The walk in 45 degree stairwell entranceway allows an adult person to enter every 5 seconds.

Tornado Shelter In-Wall Storage
Tornado Shelter In-Wall Storage


NORAD Tornado Shelters Conform to Numerous Engineering Standards
NORAD Tornado Shelters Conform to Numerous Engineering Standards


NORAD Tornado Shelters are always equipped with electric power, LED lights, generous air intake capacity, dust air filtration and in-wall storage. Shelters are usually equipped with cold running water, bathroom sinks, flush toilets and a septic system. The NORAD design allows the structure to be  dual use. The S16x80 Tornado Shelter, for example, has 768 linear feet of in-wall storage shelves. LED lights allowing reading anywhere in the shelter. Potential NORAD Tornado Shelter non-storm uses include using it as a classroom, office, meeting room,  storage room, reading room, supervised play room, supervised daycare area, quiet area, art room and theater.

Principles of Protection
Principles of Protection


Conventional tornado shelters often come with no warranty, with better companies offering “limited lifetime warranties for any defects in material workmanship.” A “workmanship” warranty doesn’t promise the shelter will stand up to 350 mph tornado winds, making the tornado shelter owner responsible for the expensive post-tornado repairs. Complete shelter destruction is not a defect and so is not covered under these warranties. Buyers have no recourse except to repair, re-build and replace the tornado shelter. NORAD Tornado Shelters are warrantied for 30 years against structural failure. The NORAD shelter hull is not exposed to Tornado winds. The air manifolds and hatches are flush with the ground to resist 350 mph winds. A 30 year corrosion protection system is included with all NORAD Tornado Shelters. Protection and the associated warranty can be upgraded to 40 or 50 year lengths.   NORAD Tornado Shelters meet numerous scientific and engineering specifications and standards, a few of which follow:

ABYC American Boat and Yacht Council
ANSI American National Standards Institute
API American Petroleum Institute
ASHRAE American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
ASME American Society of Mechanical Engineers
ASTM American Society for Testing Materials
MIL U.S. Department of Defense Military Standards
STI and NACE Steel Tank Institute and NACE International – The Corrosion Society
POP Principles of Protection: U.S. Handbook of NBC Weapon Fundamentals and Shelter Engineering Design Standards, Brown, 6th Ed. 2013.
NORAD Shelter Systems LLC LogoFOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT NORAD Shelter Systems LLC® 675 Town Square Boulevard Garland, TX 75040 +1 (972) 913-6882 noradshelters.com sales@noradshelters.com