Tornado Shelter info and Domes in Disasters

 This page entirely reflects the views of management!

March 4 2016. ICC issues ESR 3419 to New Age Domes making us the only dome to be reviewed and pass their intense scrutiny.

Plainly said, your idea will live or die by their conclusions!

We spent 5 years of intense engineering calculations, 2 math theories, a RISA computer model and a live load test at the University of Alabama large structures testing lab to get this approval.

We’re DONE with this “claim and counterclaim” by other dome companies and systems. There is a record of the test at the University of Alabama’s large structures testing lab, as well as some interesting ballistic information on the ” Little Dome that Could” page on this site. You’ll be amazed at the results and then realize what you currently consider “safe” to live in…isn’t really.


A chilling visual from NOAA on how” Tornado Alley” has shifted eastwards.

My grandfather was a minister who told the story (and you may have heard it) about the guy sitting on his porch during a flood watching the waters rise. Along comes a guy in a rowboat who offers him a ride. His response was, ” Nope, the lord will take care of me”. Next thing you know he’s on the rooftop with the waters still coming up when the rescuers come by in  a helicopter. Same response, ” The lord is gonna take care of me”, and he was washed off the roof and drowned. He was justifiably kind of mad as he got to St Peter’s desk and said, ” Hey, I thought the lord was gonna take care of me in that flood!”

 Saint Peter said, ” Well he sent you a rowboat and a helicopter, what exactly did you want?”

With today’s worsening weather and increased energy costs which are we to you?

Your rowboat or your helicopter?

All of the photographs below are unaltered, and represent the most comprehensive collection of domes after disasters that exists in the industry today.

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Alabama residents might be surprised to note we are second only to Texas in the number of twisters each came from that way

 This dome built by New Age Construction received a direct hit from the F5 tornado of April 27th,2011 with 44 fatalities. Wall cloud is still visible in the background. Owner was under the stairs and reported the worst thing she got out of the event was her dog peed on her foot.


3torDirect hit!  F5 Tornado West Jefferson County 1998. 42 fatalities. 14 foundations in the foreground cleaned to the slabs!


Direct hit! F 4 tornado Jacksonville Texas. Note the remains of the neighbors house in the foreground. The dome was hit first and then it passed onto the “box home”



Hurricane “Alicia” Galveston Texas. Note that the neighbors entire roof is just gone.


My dome after a 120′ tall x 55″ thick white oak tree snapped off at the roots and impacted at a 45 degree angle.  Engineer rated the impact at hundreds of thousands of pounds of  force. Didn’t even penetrate the drywall!



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The 24′ dome used as a golf cart shed  had (4) 18-24″ diameter trees land on it in our last “small” tornado in 2014. Note the damage to the main house after 2 similar trees landed on it.


Katrina 32 foot tidal surge

Hurricane Katrina couldn’t blow this one over! Submerged to the tops of the windows. Everything else on the block was a forest of naked pilings.

phone downlaods 018Owners new dome is sitting on 42 class II pilings driven to rejection, and 8 feet higher.

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Our FEMA 361G large shelter design coming to a city near you.

An open invitation to communities and schools looking for more cost effective means of protecting citizens in a tornado or other natural disaster.

We have the FEMA approved design for shelters that are constructed of a more environmentally sound material. Wood!   After all it’s the shape that deflects the winds…not the materials.

     An F5 tornado will influence a rectangular building according to a Colorado State/Texas Tech wind tunnel tests at a rate of 400 lbs per sq ft.

 A dome is affected at 100 lbs per sq ft by the same tornado.

Why do you suppose the weather channel shows a lowering funnel cloud behind one person on camera and a dome behind the other?

Why does almost every TV show or movie feature a dome as a vision of the future, both as housing or protecting habitats on other planets?

Our nations defense capability for many years was protected by a series of DEW line domes in the arctic. A HOSTILE environment to be sure, yet the domes took it.


 So let’s be clear about one important fact! It’s the SHAPE that makes the difference…not the materials if the dome is engineered to that particular material.

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A tornado shelter is born…..

START with approved 2×8 framing , add a layer of steel and 2 layers of 3/4″ plywood, and you have the birth of a WOOD and STEEL  tornado shelter fully compliant with FEMA ( spec 361G) regulations.

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Our New Age Domes factory doubles as a FEMA approved tornado shelter. The site on which we are building was cleared by the April 27,2011 tornado here in Tuscaloosa. This is the third dome we’ve built on tornado leveled sites. No more fitting way to let mother nature know we get the message, than to re build a little smarter. Another dome is planned , and now we are underway on dome 2 .


Several of my neighbors have keys for use during bad weather.  THIS bad boy is rated at over 400 mph wind speed, and will shelter about 700 people when complete.


This concrete dome didn’t do so well after a tornado did it?


Concrete dome sprayers  say ,”  I know…we”ll throw some more concrete on it and call it a SHELTER”. Compare the damage to our wooden dome in the above section with a little “give” in the structure, and this concrete dome after an F 5 tornado.

Wood is environmentally friendly and when  engineered correctly, uses multiple load paths to deflects ultra high winds and absorb tremendous impacts with only superficial damage.

Much like the arrester gear that stops multi ton jets on a super carrier, or as simple as a spiders thin web. Impact is spread and absorbed. Damage that is easily repaired since each panel is it’s own shear panel. Replacing the damaged sections is as easy a removing bolts between the affected panels and dropping in a new one. Refurbish the roofing and done.011

THIS is a concrete dome after a few years. Unsightly and unusable and costs as much to tear down as it did to build!

1411774315000-dome.JPG concrete cracks

According to a professor friend of mine, the process of making , distributing and placing concrete is responsible for up  to 20% of our greenhouse gasses on the planet

Don’t get me wrong…I like concrete…In a foundation

OK…lets say you are one of those people whose home doesn’t get a direct hit from a tornado. You are much more likely to have trees and debris impact your home even in a near miss.  In our town and state we are at ground zero for tornado formation and get two or three twisters a year, that don’t always make the national news. Property damage in the BEST of circumstances is a given. Box houses just can’t take a hit like that without significant damage.


A conventional framed house would collapse (shear) to the foundation with a load of between 4 and 11,000 lbs.

So let’s talk numbers here.

The above house was impacted by a tree that was half as large as the one that snapped off and landed on the dome below.



This dome was calculated by a professional engineering firm as having absorbed over 150,00lbs. My homes total replacement cost  and my rate went DOWN after this impact.

In every case I’ve documented over the last 40 years when a dome was impacted, the debris and trees all lay down in a circular pattern around the dome. NOTHING gets a square impact because of the very same factors that create flight.more down tree side yard


An airplanes leading edge is round or ovoid to deflect and move air across the surface of the wings to create lift.

Ship building has shown the bulbous bow helps the ship go thru the water with less resistance.

A dome has more structure diametrically opposed to forces from ANY angle….not a roof structure attached at corners with walls that act like big sails.

Our certification  and engineering advantages represent a real advantage in construction techniques.


 Why shouldn’t you consider shape of your structure as being important in defense against the forces of nature?

Why shouldn’t you be a little more prepared for the unexpected that mother nature keeps hitting us with?

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Why shouldn’t you be considering a NEW AGE dome?

Alices roofed

This 9667 sq ft beauty is slowly disappearing into the hillside. Using “experienced”lumber from a barn built in the 1850s for B&B siding

They don’t get any more real than a tornado survivors own words!

April 27th 2011

Brookwood, Alabama

Jon Smith knew a great house when he saw it. A dome located on a woodsy hilltop in rural Tuscaloosa County close by a local water recreation area  He was surprised that it was for sale and that nobody in the real estate group really paid much attention to the virtues of the dome design.  He bought it after a renter moved out.

The pre purchase inspection showed no flaws during its previous 10 years as a rental.

His research told him domes were stronger and more energy efficient and the price was certainly right.

When he met his soon- to-be wife, Crystal, he found she also had a love of domes for the same reasons. Power bills were just what they expected. $110.00 a month average for 1910 sq ft home. Open spacious rooms throughout.

On April 27th, 2011, the killer storm that devastated Tuscaloosa Alabama took dead aim at their home. Crystal Smith was trying to get to her dome home. Here is her story.


“I was in a hurry to get home to my dome after leaving the U of A campus, hearing about a possible tornado on the west side of the city coming our way. I thought I might as well be in the safest place I can, so I went home.  I  had always believed a dome was better in winds, yet there was always a group of people who would say things like, “nothing can withstand a tornado” or,” what about flying debris?”.

Once we lost power there was no way to further track the storm  but soon the huge roar told me we were in the path..  In spite of what I’d always believed to be a real advantage, I feared debris coming inside our dome.  I got the animals and went inside the hall closet under the stairs just to be on the safe side. You could soon hear a constant thundering kind of rumble coming from the southeast and so I knew it was going to be close. When the impacts started on the dome it sounded like we were being bombed. The suction of the wind could actually be felt. I knew we must be in or close to the funnel. Under the stairs it really wasn’t that loud, and though I did hear trees hitting the house, and some glass breaking, I assumed it must have just missed us.

When I opened the front door and saw what was left of our hilltop I knew it was more than just a close call.

Jon’s car was crushed. We had a broken window upstairs, the trees formerly on the hill behind us were all over the house or just plain GONE, and my dog peed on my foot.

Lots of shingles were missing and our tool shed was crushed and ripped off the outside of the garage.   Nothing completely punctured the dome.

The neighbor’s house down the hill was damaged worse than ours and it was well below the ridge. It wasn’t a dome.

These photos I sent to JJ at New Age Construction were taken immediately after going outside. The back edge of the wall cloud was still visible in the background.

Looking back, it was great to really believe in theory we had a stronger house, but how many times do you have the opportunity (or misfortune) to be inside a building hit by a tornado, without major injury or damage to the building or ourselves?

It absolutely reinforced our belief that we were right in our choice of homes.

We have a group of friends and family that are now looking more closely into domes after this.”