Can A Tornado Break Bullet Proof Glass?

Can A Tornado Break Bullet Proof Glass?

All of us have seen our fair share of Hollywood movies and television shows that demonstrate bulletproof glass capabilities. Many of these entertainment fares say that bulletproof glass can stop a rocket-propelled grenade, even a rampaging dinosaur. Such is the apparent power of bulletproof glass that can stop an F3 tornado.

But can a tornado break bulletproof glass? Yes, it can. But the tornado itself isn’t the force causing the damage but the debris that it hurls around like missiles.

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Read on and know why even a mild tornado can break bulletproof glass like it was nothing. We will also discuss ways to stay safe in a tornado by being in a safe room. 

Bulletproof Glass Is A Protective Material

We must first emphasize that there’s no such thing as bulletproof glass. Instead, it’s bullet-resistant glass, a protective material used across many industries.

It’s used by firefighters, astronauts, and soldiers, among others, as a safety barrier in inhospitable environments. But we will use bulletproof glass since it is a common term.

Bulletproof glass has also been used in tornado situations because of its extreme strength against projectiles. For example, Sean Casey used it in his Tornado Intercept Vehicle (TIV) used in Storm Chasers, a television show.

Marcus Gutierrez, the TIV driver, said that its windows are made of customized bulletproof glass.

But bulletproof glass has its limits against the forces of nature! While it can stop a 9mm bullet and a rocket-propelled grenade in their path, it isn’t sufficient protection against missiles.

Tornados Are Extreme Forces of Nature

It applies to the debris that a tornado can turn into missiles. A study conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) bulletproof glass isn’t acceptable for tornado shelters.  

In the study, a 2’ x 4’ lumber weighing 15 pounds was used as a standard missile. It was made to travel at 67mph vertically and 100mph horizontally and propelled at a 90-degree angle. At these speeds, it was akin to being hurled by a tornado with a 250mph wind speed.

The result: The bulletproof glass didn’t withstand the impact.

We also want to emphasize that the destructive force of a tornado lies not so much in its swirling winds. Instead, its awesome power lies in its ability to hurl debris and turn them into deadly missiles.

The debris can travel at more than 200mph, and anything that stands in its way will not stand a chance.

Many manufacturers sell “tornado-proof windows” made from several layers of glass-clad polycarbonate or laminated tempered glass. These aren’t actually tornado-proof, not by a long shot.

If you look closely at its fine print, these tornado-proof windows have only been tested with 2’ x 4’ lumber traveling at 35mph. While 35mph is the mild gale-force wind, it is way milder than the lowest winds on the Fujita tornado scale!

There’s no chance of it surviving the impact of debris traveling at 250mph.


If you want to be safer in a tornado, you should invest in an aftermarket safe room. You can choose an internal room, even an interior bathroom, and have it retrofitted according to ICC-500 standards.