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A Recap of Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Earthquakes

a Lighting Strike and American Ingenuity Domes

Our best wishes and thoughts go out to all the people affected by the earthquake in Haiti and Chile.

Q: What wind, seismic, and snow loads will the Ai dome withstand?
A triangle is the strongest shape known to man.  To view a video that explains this click on Triangle.  Most of the American Ingenuity geodesic dome consists of triangle shaped panels which combined with the steel reinforced concrete exterior, makes the dome incredibly strong and easily enhanced to accommodate unusual requirements. The standard design will accommodate 250 mph. winds, 90 lb. snow loads and #9 earthquakes. If that is not enough, just tell us what you need.

Two of Ai's domes in Hawaii went through a 6.6 earthquake in 2006 and suffered no structural damage. To learn more about the earthquake, click on ABC News Link and on MSNBC News Link

For over thirty years, American Ingenuity's dome design has proved itself by withstanding the following acts of nature with no structural damage: Hurricane Andrew's 200 mph winds, a tornado that rolled up a steel horse trailer and slammed it against the Menendez dome, four hurricanes in 2004, Hurricane Katrina, 6.6 earthquake in 2006, sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of the Northwest Territory of Canada, a 30" in diameter 115 foot tall hickory tree impact, a lighting strike and many other conditions.

More about steel horse trailer impact: American Ingenuity warranties their concrete domes against hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes. Since our dome kit manufacturing business started, Ai has sold kits into 46 states and twelve foreign areas. Since then Ai does not know of any of our client's domes suffering any damage due to hurricanes, earthquakes or tornadoes except for one dome during Hurricane Andrew. During Andrew a tornado slammed a two wide metal horse trailer against a 45’ Ai Dome.  A riser wall of the dome ended up with a hairline crack and a missing chunk of concrete. The dome owner caulked the crack, mixed up some fiber concrete to fill the chunk and then painted over the area.

More about the tree impact: There was no damage to the Brack's 48' Ai dome or its basement after winds in excess of 75 mph hit North Carolina in July of 1996. The real test came when a 115' high, 30" in diameter hickory tree was blown over and fell on their dome. The impact broke a 10" diameter branch. The tree slid off the dome and landed on a deck post driving it and it's 16" square concrete footer 6" further into the ground. The insurance agent who inspected the damage to the deck conveyed his amazement about the dome's strength with this comment, "If that had been a frame house the tree would have ended up in the basement!"

More about the lightning strike: American Ingenuity's 45' office dome withstood another one of nature's most powerful forces, a LIGHTNING STRIKE. The lightning hit the outer edge of an entryway and the only damage it did to the dome was to knock off a handful of concrete at the point of impact! A couple of our computers have not been the same since, but the cost to repair the dome did not exceed $30 in materials and labor.

More about heavy snow loads: In 1995 Mr. and Mrs. Carroll visited Robens and Tom Napolitan's dome.  Robens was enthusiastic, but Tom was not. Tom explained to the Carroll's, "its all HER idea, I didn't want a dome." Mary Carroll phoned the Napolitans in 1996.  Mrs. Carroll said you couldn't keep Tom quiet this time.  He had nothing but wonderful things to say about the dome and had completely turned around about the wonders of living in an American Ingenuity dome.....ROOFS HAD COLLAPSED in their area under several feet of snow, but NOT HIS DOME!   Tom's turnaround sold Mary and her husband on an Ai dome. 

This recap starts with the most current hurricane, Ike. 

HURRICANE IKE, September 2008

third most destructive hurricane

to ever make landfall in the United States

Vicki and David Evans of Seabrook, Texas went through Hurricane Ike in an American Ingenuity dome home (48’ and 34’ with 40’ screen dome).  Vicki states, “Our domes had no damage although we had significant tree damage on our one acre lot.  We slept through Hurricane Ike and only the next day realized how violent the hurricane had been.  Whole communities two miles away in the Galveston Bay area  were destroyed.  Our neighbors could not believe that we slept through the storm….they told us that they had been up all night due to the violent winds and noise. We did not have to replace or repair our roof. YEA!  Many of our neighbors have spent the last several months replacing their roofs.   Because of the aerodynamic shape of the dome, its steel reinforced concrete construction and its thick insulation, the hurricane sounds were not absorbed through the walls of the dome and our domes had no damage.  We are really glad that we built our domes back in 1991.”

The following info about Ike came from the Wikipedia dictionary.

Hurricane Ike was the third most destructive hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States. It was the ninth named storm, fifth hurricane and third major hurricane of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. It was a Cape Verde-type hurricane, as it started as a tropical disturbance off the coast of Africa near the end of August, then tracked south of Cape Verde and slowly developed. On September 1, 2008, it became a tropical storm west of the Cape Verde islands.

By the early morning hours of September 5, Ike was a Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 km/h) and a pressure of 935 mbar (27.61 in Hg). That made it the most intense storm in the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Ike also had the highest IKE (Integrated Kinetic Energy) of any Atlantic storm in history. Integrated Kinetic Energy is a measure of storm surge destructive potential, similar to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, though the IKE is more complex and in many ways more accurate. On a scale that ranges from 1 to 6, with 6 being highest destructive potential, Ike earned a 5.6 on September 11 at 12:30 p.m. EDT. In comparison to Ike, hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, both from the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season peaked at 5.1. As such, had Ike made landfall as a Category 3 or higher, the hurricane would have likely had a record breaking storm surge and the potential for damage could have been worse than what was seen with Hurricane Katrina. However, Ike made its final landfall in Baytown, Texas, United States as a Category 2 hurricane.

Ike was blamed for at least 195 deaths. Of these, 74 were in Haiti, which was already trying to recover from the impact of three storms earlier that year: Fay, Gustav, and Hanna. In the United States, 112 people were killed, and 34 are still missing. Damages from Ike in US coastal and inland areas are estimated at $24 billion (2008 USD), with additional damage of up to $4 billion in Cuba, $200 million in the Bahamas, and $60 million in the Turks and Caicos, amounting to a total of $28.26 billion in damages. Ike was the third costliest U.S. hurricane of all time, behind Hurricane Andrew of 1992 and Hurricane Katrina of 2005.

Hurricane Katrina   

It appears that Hurricane Katrina has caused many deaths and over $34 Billion dollars in damages making it the worst American Catastrophe. To learn more about American Ingenuity's warranty against Hurricanes, Tornadoes and Earthquakes, click on Warranty. 

According to information from the Insurance Information Institute, the 2004 Florida Hurricanes (Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan) are among the 10 costliest U.S. catastrophes when measured by insured damages. At the time of the 2004 hurricanes, American Ingenuity had over 123 concrete domes in Florida, not one of them suffered any damage due to these hurricanes. News reports stated that in 2004 one out of every five residences in Florida suffered damage due to the hurricanes. The following was taken from the Insurance Information Institute's web site On their front page click on "Facts and Statistics," then click on Catastrophes.  As of 2009, Florida allows a wind mitigation form to be filled out by a certified engineer.  Ai domes that have had this form submitted to their insurance companies have paid greatly reduced prices for the hurricane part of their insurance.  One client's premium went from $850 to $90.

Catastrophe (year) Inflation adjusted losses*
Hurricane Katrina (2005)
$40.4 billion
Hurricane Andrew (1992)
$20.86 billion
Sept. 11 Attacks (2001)
$20.05 billion
Northridge, CA Earthquake (1994)
$15.93 billion
Hurricane Charley (2004)
$7.47 billion
Hurricane Ivan (2004)
$7.11 billion

Hurricane Hugo (1989)

$6.39 billion
Hurricane Frances (2004)
$4.59 billion
Hurricane Jeanne (2004)
$3.65 billion
Hurricane Georges (1998)
$3.36 billion
Tropical Storm Allison (2001)
$3.09 billion
Hurricane Opal (1995)
$2.60 billion
Hurricane Floyd (1999)
$2.22 billion

*Note: Adjusted to 2004 dollars by the Insurance Information Institute.


Insured Loss in 2005 (usd) (2)

Aug. 24, 2005
  • United States
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Bahamas
  • North Atlantic
  • Hurricane
  • Katrina
  • Floods
  • Damage to levees and oil rigs
Aug. 23, 1992
  • United States
  • Bahamas
  • Hurricane Andres
Sept. 11, 2001
  • United States
  • Terrorist attacks on WTC
  • Pentagon
  • Other buildings
Jan. 17, 1994
  • United States
  • Northbridge
  • Earthquake (magnitude 6.6)
Sept. 2, 2004
  • United States
  • Caribbean
  • Barbados
  • et al.
  • Hurricane Ivan
  • Damage to oil rigs
Sept. 20, 2005
  • United States
  • Gulf of Mexico
  • Cuba
  • Hurricane Rita
  • Floods
  • Damage to oil rigs
Oct. 15, 2005
  • United States
  • Mexico
  • Jamaica
  • Haiti et al.
  • Hurricane Wilma
  • Torrential rain
  • Floods
Aug. 11, 2004
  • United States
  • Caribbean
  • Cuba
  • Jamaica
  • et al.
  • Hurricane Charley
Sept. 27, 1991
  • Japan
  • Typhoon
  • Mireille/No. 19
Jan. 25, 1990
  • France
  • United Kingdom
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands
  • et al.
  • Winterstrom
  • Daria

(1) Property and business interruption losses, excluding life and liability losses

(2) Adjusted to 2005 dollars by Swiss Re.

Note: Loss data shown here may differ from figures shown elsewhere for the same event due to differences in the date of publication, the geographical area covered and other criteria used by organizations collecting the data.

Source: Swiss Re, sigma, No. 2/2006

American Ingenuity's Concrete Dome Homes

Have Exceptional Strength

A dome shape has inherent strength that exceeds all other home designs as proven by Buckminster Fuller. Our reinforced concrete dome homes shell is virtually indestructible, able to withstand enormous wind and snow loads and capable of supporting four fee of earth berming.

As home manufacturers American Ingenuity is confident of its housing kits and Ai offers a structural guarantee the dome will withstand hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes. To read about Ai's warranty, click on Guarantee.

During the 2004 Hurricane system, Florida experienced four hurricanes. None of our concrete domes suffered any damage, even though some were in the direct path of Charley, Ivan, Frances and Jeanne.  Below is a recap of that hurricane season and other Ai dome strength info.

Since 1976 Ai has not had any skylights broken during hurricanes or tornadoes. We can only assume that hail has occurred during some of the tornadoes. Because Ai has had individuals ask us about the skylight's breakability, Ai did a test to see when the skylight's tempered glass would break. We had to drop a four foot long 2x4 from 12 feet high before the skylight glass would break. Ai does not think that hail will break it, although Ai does not give a guarantee on the skylights. Skylights can be replaced if need be.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

These domes are 34' (two bedroom and two bathroom) connected to a 22' one car garage dome. They went through Hurricane Frances and Hurricane Jeanne with no damage. But a conventional house across the street lost its roof. Pictured on the left is a dumpster with that house's shingles and their carpet is on the ground.
This 45' dome went through Hurricane Andrew and had no structural damage. It suffered minor damage when a riser panel was hit by a two wide metal horse trailer. The riser wall ended up with a hairline crack and a missing chunk of concrete. The hurricane blew the plywood off their doors and windows so the interior of their dome suffered some rain damage.


Hurricanes And The American Ingenuity Dome

Hurricane Katrina August 29, 2005

American Ingenuity Dome Homes are located in:

  • The Louisiana cities of St Bernard, Baton Rouge and Slidell
  • The Mississippi cities of Purvis, Magee, Byhalia, Saucier, Pattison and Pulaski
  • The Alabama cities of Rainsville, Scottsboro, Enterprize, Dora and Madison

On September 5th, 2005 the Murphy's in Purvis Mississippi called and said their 48' dome shell was erected but the inside was not finished. Hurricane Katrina destroyed their conventional house so they moved into their unfinished dome. They had water but no electricity or gasoline for their generator.

On October 11, 2005 Ai heard from our dome owner in Slidell Louisiana. She purchased a 40’ dome in December 1987. She told us the following: "At first we evacuated to a hotel whose roof was blown off by the hurricane. So we had to move to another location. My 40’ American Ingenuity dome sits 8’ above sea level and was built on 10’ tall wood stilts with break-a-way basement walls. There was no damage to my dome structure. The water surge was 18’. Water splashed under a door but there was no water damage in my house other than a skylight leaked."

Her dome was the only livable house in the area. Down the street the only thing left of her sister’s house was a concrete slab.

The water surge pushed a big object under her dome bending a beam under the platform and cracking one wood stilt. The surge of water washed away the break-a-way basement walls and all her electrical and plumbing from under the dome. All she needed to move back into her dome was to get the plumbing and electric reconnected.

The first time she visited her dome after Hurricane Katrina, a man was standing looking at her dome. This person had visited her dome during its construction back in 1988. He reminded her about the “Nay Sayers that told her she was building the wrong type of house.” He wondered, “What those same people would think now.”

Hurricane Ivan 2004

Florida Today’s headline for September 17th was titled “Pensacola in Pieces.” Part of the story read, on September 15, 2004 Hurricane Ivan came on shore at Gulf Shores Alabama but the northeast winds caused the most damage to cities in the nearby Florida Panhandle of Pensacola, Milton, Santa Rosa, ..........

A Client in Milton Florida purchased a 45’ and 30’ dome with 34 screen dome March 1995. They were in the direct path of Hurricane Ivan. On Sept 16th John said, “We were in the middle of the eye and had the full blast of the winds plus there was a tornado in our area. The area looks like a war zone. Our concrete domes were wonderful and suffered no damage.” He told us, “Firefighters came by our dome and told us ‘You have the right house for hurricanes.’” He had not received any reports on the wind speed but it was probably 135 to 145 mph or more plus there was a tornado. Pine trees in his yard were stripped of their needles and their bark. Many of his pine trees were laying on a 45 degree angle. A 2x6 board hit the dome and ricocheted onto their screen dome breaking a rib causing the screen dome to collapse. (American Ingenuity does not warranty the screen domes against wind damage.) Interstate 10’s Bridge over Pensacola Bay is missing a precast concrete segment on each end…whole electrical substations were blown up. Casinos in Biloxi were destroyed.

A client in Santa Rosa Beach Florida purchased a 48’ and 34’ domes in July 1996. Gary told us, “They had over 135 mph winds and their domes suffered no damage.” Their domes sit higher, at 56' above sea level, than the surrounding houses.

Hurricane Charley

came on land at Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda August 13, 2004

A client in Port Charlotte purchased 40’ and 27’ domes in December 2002. They were in the direct path of Hurricane Charley coming on land in Florida. On September 8th, Trudy called to thank us for their dome. They had winds greater than 145 mph and their dome had no problem….one window got a crack from debris. She said that most of town was destroyed and all three area hospital’s roofs were blown off. Their domes are in Charlotte County near Lee County.

A client in North Ft Meyers purchased a 34’ dome home, 27’ two car garage and 30’ screen dome in January 2003. Amy called us August 17, 2004 and said that they were 15 miles from the direct hit of the hurricane and had 117 mph sustained winds. Their domes stood strong, the only vulnerable part was their garage door that wanted to blow in. So they used 2x4’s, plywood and sandbags to hold it in place. The first thing Amy said to Michael was, “Thank you for our domes.” Their Domes are located in southern Charlotte County near Lee County.

A client in Geneva Florida (near Orlando and Sanford) purchased 40’ and 27’ domes in March 1999. His domes were in the path of Charley and Frances and suffered no damage. Charley’s winds were over 100 mph and Frances winds were 70 to 80 mph.

A client in Bunnell (near New Smyrna Beach) purchased a 40’ dome in February 1992. They were in the exit path of Charley and had 90 mph gusts. Their dome stood strong while houses in their neighborhood lost their roofs.

A client in Flagler Beach purchased 34’ and 27’ domes in January 1999. Their domes were 15 miles from Charley’s exit path. They had 70 mph sustained winds with gusts of 80 mph. During the hurricane they could hear stuff hitting their domes. In the morning they walked around their yard, picked up shingles and soffits from their neighbor's houses and washed off their driveway resulting in their property and dome looking like no hurricane had occurred.

Hurricane Frances 2004

On September 5, 2004 Hurricane Frances came on land at Fort Pierce and Vero Beach with the north east winds slamming Ai's County of Brevard.

A client in Ft. Pierce purchased a 45’ concrete dome and a 34 screen dome in June 1993. Frances's eye wall sat on them for two hours so the category 2 hurricane did category 3 damage. Cecelia said they experienced 120 to 130 mph winds with no dome damage while the house across the street lost most of its shingles.

American Ingenuity Dome offices, dome factory and all of our concrete dome residences in Brevard County went through 100 mph winds of Hurricane Frances and suffered no damage. Many conventional buildings lost roofs or had roof problems.

A client in Flagler Beach purchased 34’ and 27’ domes in January 1999. Their domes not only went through Frances but went through the exit winds of Charley (70 mph) with no structural damage.

Hurricane Jeanne 2004

On September 26, 2004 Hurricane Jeanne came on land at Stuart Florida just below Vero Beach with the north east winds hitting Indian River County and our County of Brevard.

American Ingenuity Dome offices, dome factory and all of our concrete dome residences in Brevard County went through about 10 hours of 105 mph winds of Hurricane Jeanne and suffered no damage. Many conventional buildings lost roofs or had roof problems. None of our thirteen dome clients in Brevard County suffered any damage to their domes. One of Busick’s 34’ dome home and 22’ dome garage in Melbourne is separated from the Indian River on the east only by a street (Pineapple). The domes suffered no damage while a house to the south directly across from the dome lost its roofing. The picture on this page illustrates rolls of their carpet at the street and their shingles in a dumpster. Unfortunately, the house contents got wet and were destroyed.

Hurricane Andrew 1992

In August 1992 American Ingenuity domes were put to the ultimate test of strength when they faced the wrath of Hurricane Andrew as it slammed into south Florida. Winds at the nearby Tamiami airport were clocked at 212 mph, spawning over 100 tornadoes within the storm and leaving practically everything in its wake leveled. Nearly 200,000 people become homeless overnight. Even a tower at the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant, designed to withstand 200-mph winds, was irrevocably damaged by this fierce storm. We were not surprised, however, when we learned that our domes survived - in great contrast to the thousands of conventionally built houses of their neighbors. On Key Largo, just 20 miles south of the eye of the storm, an Ai 40' dome faced the brunt of the storm. Built on pilings near the Atlantic Ocean, it was exposed to relentless high winds and driving rain. Unlike houses and commercial buildings in the surrounding area, it sustained absolutely no damage.

A 45' American Ingenuity dome home was in the direct path of the devastating storm, bearing the worst Andrew could deliver; yet it suffered no structural damage. A two wide metal horse trailer was impelled against the dome leaving a paint skid marking on the dome where the trailer slide around the dome to the other side. The horse trailer caused a crack in the riser wall and a chunk of concrete to break loose. The dome owner, caulked the crack and mixed up some of the fiber concrete and filled the chunk and then painted the area.

Due to the type and direction of the debris scattered around the dome's neighborhood, an engineer from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F.E.M.A.) surmised that a tornado had struck the area. The engineer's own Alabama home had been hit by a tornado a few years ago, so he was impressed by the integrity of the dome on an emotional as well as a professional level. The dome structure had withstood not only the force of a hurricane but a tornado as well. The incredibly intense winds ripped open double entry doors and 12' sliding glass doors, which had been covered with protective plywood sheathing. Even though the wood and glass doors of the entryways succumbed to the wind and allowed interior water damage from the rain, the dome itself stood strong. <

Earthquakes and the American Ingenuity Dome

Ai. has shipped its domes into California. New construction in California has to have engineer sealed building plans that certify the structure can withstand earthquakes. Ai knows of a California engineer who would not have any reservation to certify our dome for earthquake requirements. He has sealed Ai's dome plans for California before. American Ingenuity warranties its dome will withstand an earthquake regardless of the magnitude.

Engineers have told us that the steel mesh used in our panels absorbs stress and transfers the stress all around the dome; so the dome will not crack or collapse.  Engineers also tell us that wind forces are more severe than earthquake forces.

If additional second floor bracing is needed in earthquake areas, we can add steel cables connecting the thicker concrete seams to the second floor framing. These designs in conjunction with the extremely rigid concrete dome are suitable for a category 9 earthquake.  

If you want exceptional strength, Ai can add that to the standard design and you can have your own selected engineer verify that for you. 

Two of Ai's domes in Hawaii went through a 6.6 earthquake in 2006 and suffered no structural damage. To learn more about the earthquake, paste these links in your browser  and the link  

Due to the complexity of the dome geometry the only practical way to do a complete strength analysis is with a computer program. The structural engineer we use has run that analysis for each of our designs and the domes can withstand winds in excess of 150 miles an hour, snow loads in excess of 80 lbs. per sq.ft. and #9 earthquakes. We can design the dome to withstand whatever loads you desire.   Ai also did a load test on an Ai 48' component panel.  To read about this test, click on Load Test. 

Tree Impact and the American Ingenuity Dome

There was no damage to Randy and Anita Brack’s 48’ dome after winds in excess of 75 mph hit North Carolina in July 1996. The real test came when a 115’ high, 30" in diameter hickory tree was blown over and fell on their dome. The impact broke one of the tree's 10” diameter branches. The tree slid off and landed on a deck post driving it and its 16” square concrete footer 6” further into the ground. The insurance agent who inspected the damage to the deck conveyed his amazement about the dome’s strength with this comment, “If that had been a frame house the tree would have ended up in the basement.”

Lighting Strike and the American Ingenuity Dome

American Ingenuity’s 45’ Office Dome withstood another one of nature’s most powerful forces, a lightning strike. The lightning hit the outer edge of an entryway and the only damage it did to the dome was to knock off a handful of concrete at the point of impact. A couple of our computers have not been the same since, but the cost to repair the dome did not exceed $30 in materials and labor.


This photo shows the corner of the high profile entryway that was hit by the lighting.
This is a close up of the lighting strike area where the concrete was blown out.

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