Mother nature deals some of her harshest blows through hurricanes and tornadoes. These types of severe weather events can be planned for well in advance and can be anticipated if predicted by weather forecasters. However, the reality is that severe storms are often unpredictable and planning can only go so far. Propane tanks and LP Gas systems can only sustain so much weather damage before they too are at the mercy of extreme weather. Like in any weather emergency, using common sense, good judgment and heeding the advice of local authorities supercedes any information found here.
The effects of hurricanes along coastlines can be devastating to rural and urban areas alike. No matter how prepared you think you are in anticipation of a hurricane, these storms have a mind of their own and are not selective when doling out damage. Propane tanks are at the mercy of these severe storms in terms of storm surge, extreme winds and flooding. While there are some precautions that can be taken in advance of a hurricane, they should be planned for well in advance of hurricane season. In other words, permanently securing a propane tank should occur outside of tropical storm months and hurricane season.
Location and proximity to coastal areas such as bays and beachfront's will likely be taken into account during propane tank installation. Because hurricanes deliver damage through different means (wind, flooding, etc.), the likelihood of completely "storm-proofing" a propane tank is extremely remote. When a hurricane is pushing 100 mile an hour winds coupled with a forceful, high level storm surge, propane tanks will likely be at the mercy of the fierce storm. But this is only the case in locales directly adjacent coastal areas where homes and businesses are exposed to these severe conditions as well and chances are, a structure will fare better than a propane tank. But farther inland, where hurricanes still cause severe damage, propane tanks will generally fare better due to the absence of storm surge and tidal flooding. It's much easier to prepare for this type of hurricane activity where residents aren't subject to mandatory evacuations. Prior to evacuating, residents should adopt similar procedures to that of propane tanks and flooding preparation.
As with hurricanes, severe thunderstorms will spawn tornadoes causing severe damage to anything in their path. Tornadoes have extremely destructive characteristics that can easily pick above ground propane tanks off their blocks or foundation and throw them hundreds of yards away. For this reason alone, underground propane tanks will sustain the forceful winds associated with tornadoes and will remain even if a structure is destroyed. However, what users need to know is that an emergency storm situation with an approaching tornado is no time to be running out to the propane tank to close the valve. Good judgment and concern for life is far above the concern for propane tank security and propane gas related issues. Tornadoes will do as they please and there's really not much that a propane tank owner can do immediately before an approaching tornado. The good news is that the probability of being directly hit by a tornado is extremely remote.
Tornadoes are more common in certain geographic areas such as "tornado alley" and can be more frequent. These areas should take necessary steps to avoid possible displacement of above ground propane tanks. Such as similar to securing tanks against flooding, propane tanks can be anchored according to the recommendations set out by FEMA. These guidelines are tailored for anchoring propane tanks in floods but will also be effective in anchoring above ground propane tanks in the event of a tornado.
Additional storm related concerns propane users may have include damage to tanks and cylinders as a result of hail, debris or falling trees or limbs. These things will likely not affect the container shell or exterior but could possibly cause damage to fittings or valves under the tank dome. These connections will usually be protected by the tank dome when securely closed. Know that tank domes should be securely fastened in place on both sides to prevent damage to tank fittings and valves. Also see Propane Tank Protection for more information about the importance of tank domes in a severe storm.