Oklahoma data centers are ready for tornadoes

In Oklahoma, data center operators can expect a strong electric grid, low energy costs and the 'greatest frequency of tornadoes in the U.S.'

When questions arise about the threat of tornadoes to Perimeter Technology's Oklahoma City data center, Todd Currie has answers at the ready.

Perimeter's vice president of operations and general manager, Currie even has a cutout sample of the data center's roof to use as proof of the sturdiness of the facility, which was built to withstand an EF3 tornado. In the middle range on the Enhanced Fujita scale of tornado strength, whose ratings go from EF0 to EF5, an EF3 tornado has winds of 136 to 165 miles per hour.

There are good reasons for potential customers to ask the commercial data center provider about the threat of tornadoes.

The area around and to the southwest of Oklahoma City "has perhaps the greatest frequency of tornadoes in the U.S.," said John Snow, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. Although he did acknowledge that "tornadoes are still very rare events at any particular location, even in the bull's-eye."

The probability that an EF2 or stronger tornado may strike anywhere in Oklahoma in any given year is 0.025%, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In comparison, it's 0.002% in New York City.

On May 20, an EF5 tornado unleashed 200 mph winds in Moore, Okla., just 20 miles from Perimeter's data center. But such events are extremely rare. NOAA estimates that about 95% of all tornadoes are below EF3 intensity, and only 0.1% achieve the EF5 level.

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