Texas: Land of Many Tornadoes and Few Basements

Jan 19, 2016

Tom Werling builds basements in the Dallas area.
Credit Christopher Connelly / KERA

Meteorologists say basements are one of the best places to take shelter during a tornado. But for some reason, Texas has a woeful lack of basements, according to KUT Austin. Some say the lack of cellars is due to the expansive soil in Texas. When Texas dirt gets wet, it swells. Then it shrinks again in the summer. That makes building basements difficult.

Another reason for the lack of underground shelter: geography. When northern houses are built, contractors have to put foundations down below the freeze line. Since they’re already down there, putting a basement in isn’t as costly as it is in the south.

One final reason for the dearth of cellars involves circular reasoning. Since there aren’t many basements in Texas, homebuyers don’t expect them. But now that more northerners are moving to the Lone Star State, they’re requesting basements. And builders are obliging them.