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Construction of Low Rise Buildings in Cyclone

Prone Areas and Modification of Cyclone

Article in Journal of Energy and Power Sources · July 2015


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J. Energy Power Sources Journal of Energy
Vol. 2, No. 7, 2015, pp. 247-252 and Power Sources
Received: June 24, 2015, Published: July 30, 2015 www.ethanpublishing.com

Construction of Low Rise Buildings in Cyclone Prone

Areas and Modification of Cyclone

Shreyas Ashok Keote, Dhanendra Kumar and Rishabh Singh

Dept. of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (B.H.U), Varanasi, India
Corresponding author: Shreyas Ashok Keote (shreyas.akeote.civ11@iitbhu.ac.in)

Abstract: The Tropical cyclones are one of the worst natural hazards faced by India. This paper provides mitigating efforts to cope up
with the moderate disasters in the coastal areas. These natural hazards can never be prevented from occurring hence we should learn to
live with them until we are able to modify them to such an extent. There is a great need to modify a cyclone in present to reduce the
collateral losses. Constructions of structures against natural hazards have always been encouraged. Planning and developments of new
construction requirements for buildings are recommended in order to reduce the risk of structural damage in future. A brief introduction
to the design of different structural parts of a building to be safe in coastal areas such as roof, foundation, walls, etc. is given. Some
techniques of reducing the intensity of cyclone and modification of its path are also discussed. This paper collects the ongoing efforts
related to cyclone mitigation from a structural point proposing some recommendations for design of buildings in cyclone prone areas.
This paper also provides a little introduction to modification of intensity of cyclone.

Keywords: Tropical cyclone, mitigation efforts, minimum design standards, cloud seeding, dyn-o-mat.

1. Introduction This energy source differs from that of mid-latitude

cyclonic storms, such as nor’easters and European
A cyclone is an intense vortex in the atmosphere
windstorms, which are fueled primarily by horizontal
with a closed contour of low pressure region (Eye) with
temperature contrasts. The strong rotating winds of a
a few hundred kilometers of overall diameter of
tropical cyclone are a result of the (partial)
cyclone. The wind speeds vary, along the radial
conservation of angular momentum imparted by the
distance from the center of cyclone (Eye), from zero
Earth’s rotation as air flows inwards toward the axis of
magnitude at the center of the cyclone to a maximum
rotation. As a result, they rarely form within 5° of the
magnitude near the radius of maximum wind speed and
equator [2].
then gradually reduce in to the edge of the cyclone as
The whole of east coast and the upper regions of
shown in Fig. 1.
west coast are prone to severe cyclones. Every year, on
Cyclonic storms draw most of their energy from the
an average five to six cyclones form in the seas and
latent heat released by the condensation of water vapor.
usually one or two of them hit the land surface in these
regions. Each year an average of 119 million people
globally are exposed to the threat of tropical cyclones,
with more than 85 percent of the expected annual
deaths in Bangladesh and India alone, and each of the
top five most exposed populations - China, India, Japan,
Philippines, Bangladesh - also in Asia. The cyclone
Fig. 1 General structure of a cyclone [1]. occurrence is more in the Bay of Bengal than in the
248 Construction of Low Rise Buildings in Cyclone Prone Areas and Modification of Cyclone

Arabian Sea with the ratio of 4:1. The months of building functions (electrical power, etc.) should also
May-June and October-November are known to be made [4].
produce cyclones of severe intensity [3]. The damage done by cyclone cannot be predicted
It has been observed in the post damage surveys that earlier, as changes in cyclone’s track, intensity is
enhancement in performance of a building could be common. But design of structures should be done
obtained by improving our construction practice, using considering the previous storms occurred in that area.
modified designs, using better quality of materials and The design requirements should at least be able to
preparing well before the cyclone. The shape and withstand the previous storms. This step can
dimensions of a building, their type of roof and roof minimize the damage to structures. Design and
slope determine the maximum wind speed permissible construction of important buildings like schools
for failure. should be done such that they can be repaired within
Modification of cyclone is the attempt to change the a short time [5].
amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds,
3. Construction of Houses in Cyclone-Prone
by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud
condensation or ice nuclei, which alter the microphysical
processes within the cloud. Minimum standards for the design, construction and
performance of buildings to “withstand extreme
2. Mitigation Efforts
climate related natural hazard events” depending upon
We know that cyclones are beyond the control of their locations should be set. Modifications in design
humans but still some efforts can be done to minimize for safeguarding houses against moderate winds
their effects and reduce human losses if not during cyclones are discussed below:
materialistic losses. In this regard, some of the efforts
3.1 Roofs
(1) Evacuating people to safe areas; Probably the most common area of failure during
(2) Continuously operating the critical facilities; cyclones is roofs. The reasons are inadequate sheet
(3) Quick recovery of important facilities such as thickness, less number of fasteners, inadequate
hospitals, communication facilities, transportation fastening devices.
facilities, etc. The ways of protecting roofs are:
For any disaster mitigation, safety of life is the most  Installing hip roofs with the pitch in the range of
important. As the prediction of cyclone’s landfall has 25 degree to 40 degree as shown in Fig. 2;
been reasonably improved in recent times, it is  Avoiding overhangs of more than 18 inches at
possible to evacuate people from the potential storm eaves or verges [6];
areas well before time. Also people are to be  Patio roofs and verandahs to be built as separate
evacuated from highly vulnerable buildings. structure from the roof;
Critical functions such as hospitals, fire stations, etc.  Securing the main ridge using gussets, collar ties
are required to be functional during and after the and metal straps;
passage of cyclone. There should be different levels of  Use of proper drive screws which go at least 50
enhancements to the buildings that house critical mm in the purlin [6].
functions. These enhancements should be above the The capacity wind speed with a partial safety factor
building code requirements of normal buildings. Other of unity and less than 20% porosity for different types
than modification of structures, enhancement of of roof is as shown in Table 1.
Construction of Low Rise Buildings in Cyclone Prone Areas and Modification of Cyclone 249

holdfasts; each holdfast being at least 9 inches long.

3.3 Foundations

Foundation of any structure needs to be strong

(a) Gable ended roofs gets high uplift
enough so that it can prevent the structure from
blowing away. Moreover, the foundation helps the
structure in withstanding the surge or flooding which
follow the cyclone.
(b) Hip roofs gets lower uplift The ways of protecting foundations are:
 Know-how of the type of soil so that the
foundation is laid at a proper depth;
 Knee bracing to be adopted over full diagonal
(c) Pyramidal roofs gets lowest uplift bracing as it allows the flow of debris;
Fig. 2 Advantage of hipped roof over gable roof [7].  Proper bracing to be done in both the principal
directions of the stilts [6];
Table 1 Wind capacities of different types of roofs [8].
 Reinforced connection between reinforced
Wind capacity
concrete foundation and wooden column;
Conventional gable roof 38 m sec-1
Improved gable roof 50 m sec-1  Posts having cross members which are connected
Improved hip roof 61 m sec-1 at the lower end should be embedded in the ground
Asbestos sheet roof 72 m sec-1 with a depth at least 750 mm;
Engineered building > 80 m sec-1
 Walls should be raised from a well compacted
ground or well compacted lean concrete bed from
3.2 Doors and Windows
depth at least 450 mm from the ground level [6].
Any kind of opening whether needed for light or
3.4 Walls
ventilation acts as an area of stress concentration. The
reasons are non-uniform distribution of winds, across These are the part of any structure which bears the
wind vibrations. ultimate load both from the windward and leeward side.
The ways of protecting doors and windows are: The whole structure collapses if they fail, therefore
 Installation of wind locks and braces in doors; proper care should be taken while constructing them.
 Every opening in the windward side to be The ways of protecting walls are:
supported by the opening on the leeward side;  Reinforcing the walls with the help of concrete
 Sum of length of openings should be less than bands and vertical reinforcing bars and lateral ties [9];
half the width of the structure;  For improving the lateral load resistance of long
 Distance of the opening from the inner corner walls, buttresses should be provided;
should be greater than one sixth length of the height of  Using Ferro-cement plating around the exterior
the structure; perimeter if horizontal bands could not be provided;
 There should be a centrally located shutter catch  Undesirable openings near the corner to be
for every window; closed so as to improve the strength of the cross walls;
 Every door frame should have at least 6 holdfasts;  The individual structures like roof and foundation
each holdfast being at least 9 inches long; should be properly braced and anchored with the
 Every window frame should have at least 4 walls.
250 Construction of Low Rise Buildings in Cyclone Prone Areas and Modification of Cyclone

Fig. 3 Stilts and earth mounds protect from high winds [11].

3.5 Planning of Settlements

 Row planning should be avoided as it focuses the

maximum wind pressure on the windward side of the
outermost settlement [10]; Fig. 4 This image explaining cloud seeding shows the
 Zigzag planning of the trees should be done so chemical either silver iodide or dry ice being dumped onto
the cloud, which then becomes a rain shower [12].
that they can divert the wind pressure;
 Building houses in valleys protects them from extent that there is already water vapor present in the
high velocity winds; air. Critics generally contend that claimed successes
 In areas of high velocity winds houses should be occur in conditions which were going to lead to rain
built on stilts or artificial raised earth mounds as anyway. The most common chemicals used for cloud
shown in Fig. 3; seeding include silver iodide, potassium iodide and
 Symmetric design of houses protects them from dry ice (Solid carbon dioxide). Liquid propane, which
unequal application of high intensity pressure. expands into a gas, has also been used. This can
produce ice crystals at higher temperatures than silver
4. Modification of Cyclone
iodide. The use of hygroscopic materials, such as table
Modification of a cyclone means either modifying salt, is becoming more popular after promising
its path or its intensity. The damage potential of a research. The process of seeding is shown in Fig. 4.
cyclone is proportional to the square of intensity of a The concept of seeding a cloud during cyclone is
cyclone and hence reduction of a cyclone’s intensity that initially silver iodide—a substance that serves as
by even a small amount is essential. an effective ice nucleus is dropped into the rainbands
The ways for modifying a cyclone which have been of the storms. Silver iodide would enhance the
used earlier are mentioned below: thunderstorms of the rainband by causing the super
(1) Cloud seeding cooled water to freeze, thus liberating the latent heat
Cloud seeding is a common technique to enhance of fusion and helping the rainband to grow at the
precipitation. Cloud seeding entails spraying small expense of the eyewall. With a weakened convergence
particles, such as silver iodide onto clouds in order to to the eyewall, the strong inner core winds would also
affect their development, usually with the goal of weaken quite a bit. Due to the weak eyewall, further
increasing precipitation. Cloud seeding only works to the growth of cyclone intensity could be stopped. This
Construction of Low Rise Buildings in Cyclone Prone Areas and Modification of Cyclone 251

would also promote the formation of a new eyewall. Modification of cyclone path can be done by
As this new eyewall was larger than the old eyewall, dropping soot on a specific part of the cloud from
the winds of the tropical cyclone would be weaker due above. As the soot is warmed by the sun, the cool air
to a reduced pressure gradient. at the very top of cyclone warms up. This process
It remained controversial whether the seedings reduces the flow of air within the cyclone and slows it
caused the secondary eyewalls or whether it was just a down. Also depending upon the location where soot is
natural cycle. Basically, if eyewall changes similar to dropped, the weakened cyclone may change its course
those observed in seeded hurricanes were rare in [14]. This process is shown in Fig. 5.
unseeded tropical cyclones, it would provide powerful Other ways of reducing the intensity of cyclone and
evidence that cloud seeding was successful. But there even prevent it from formation are under study. Some
were some cyclones in which, the formation of of them are [15]:
secondary eyewalls was natural. This phenomenon is  Pouring liquid nitrogen onto the sea to deprive
termed as “concentric eyewall cycles”. the hurricane of heat energy;
(2) Dyn-O-Mat  Weaken hurricanes with a surface film on the
The Florida Company Dyn-O-Mat proposes the use ocean that will minimize the evaporation that feeds the
of a product it has developed, called Dyn-O-Gel, to monsters.
reduce the strength of hurricanes. The substance is a
5. Conclusions
polymer in powder form (a polyacrylic acid derivative)
which reportedly has the ability to absorb 1,500 times A destructive cyclone leads to huge storm surge and
its own weight in water. The theory is that the high speed wind gusts. Under these actions buildings
polymer is dropped into clouds to remove their designed incorrectly will not perform well and
moisture and force the storm to use more energy to surrenders. The paper summarizes the construction
move the heavier water drops, thus helping to technique and design principles for building elements
dissipate the storm. When the gel reaches the ocean like roofs, doors and windows, foundation and walls to
surface, it is reportedly dissolved. The company has minimize the structural damage.
tested the substance on a thunderstorm, but there has Each of these has been specifically addressed in this
not been any scientific consensus established as to its paper with recommendations for improvement. The
effectiveness. Numerical simulations performed by ways of protecting these elements are specified in each
NOAA showed however that it would not be a sub-section. The figures shown clearly depict various
practical solution for large systems like a tropical construction technique illustrated above. The paper has
cyclone [13]. also highlighted the planning of settlement as an
important parameter. The paper also gives a brief
introduction to the various modification techniques
such as cloud seeding to reduce the intensity of
cyclones. A brief introduction to modification of
cyclone’s path is also addressed in this paper. Some
critique is provided on the existing design provision.

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Fig. 5 Cyclone path modification by dropping soot above damage and guidelines for mitigative measures, Document
the clouds. No. IITK-GSDMA-WIND03-V3.0.
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