US & Canada

US researchers create hurricane to test houses

Two homes are pounded by a simulated hurricane
Image caption Like a hurricane: More than 100 fans buffeted two houses in three tests

One house collapsed in minutes while another survived almost intact when US researchers used 105 giant fans to recreate a Category Two hurricane.

The experiment, conducted at a building safety centre in South Carolina, was intended to show the superiority of fortified construction materials.

After being buffeted by 96mph (155km/h) winds, the conventional house began to shake then collapsed.

The stronger house sustained only cosmetic damage.

Both houses survived two initial tests lasting under 10 minutes each and it was not until the researchers opened the front door of each house that the difference became clear.

Before 10 minutes had elapsed on the third experiment, the conventional house which was built to Midwest standards had fallen apart.

Tim Reinhold, chief engineer at the Insurance Center for Building Safety in Richburg, said the stronger house had cost $5,000 (£3,200) more to build.

"The bottom line question you have to ask yourself is which house would you rather be living in?" he said.

Even after the first two tests, the conventional house had suffered serious damage and would have required significant repairs.

Image caption During the third test, the conventional house fell apart within 10 minutes