Severe Weather vs. Shipping Containers: How They Hold Up

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From heavy rains and strong winds to extreme heat and cold, shipping containers are designed to withstand a variety of weather conditions. You never know what you’ll get at sea, or even in your own backyard, so it’s important to know how your chosen container will fare in various weather conditions.

When shipping containers are classified as seaworthy, this means they have met international standards (ISO) and are able to keep contents secure and dry while in transit.

This ISO seal of approval should cover:

  • Structure and design as part of intensive testing of prototypes
  • Maintenance and repair to maintain structural integrity in compliance with approved standards.

A seaworthy shipping container must be able to withstand the worst weather conditions possible, from storms to wind.

How Shipping Containers Withstand Weather

The design of a shipping container involves the practical transport of various goods so that those goods can remain in optimal condition throughout transport. Shipping containers (refrigerated containers not included) are not airtight. They feature ventilation vents at the tops for airflow.

However, these vents don’t allow sea spray in and also prevent “container rain,” whereby moisture condenses on the container’s roof, dripping onto the cargo.

But aside from the air vents, for all intents and purposes, shipping containers are virtually watertight in most instances. For instance, shipping containers that fall overboard will be able to float for long periods of time before sinking. Many make it to shore well before sinking.


A fire that occurs in the interior of a container will destroy the goods but not the container itself. This is why they’re great for training firefighters in how to put out building fires.  

In essence, shipping containers are fire-resistant boxes made of metal, with the ability to store flammable materials since in the event of a fire, it will remain inside the container.

Extreme Heat

Metal is a good conductor of heat, so in the event the container is subjected to extreme heat conditions, that heat will transfer to the interior of the storage container. If located in a hot climate, your container will get hot on the inside, but with a few modifications, you can help it stay cool.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Use shade where available
  • Add a reflecting roof
  • Add insulation
  • Add more ventilation
  • Put in an AC or an extraction fan

Strong Winds

Shipping containers must be able to withstand winds up to 180 MPH without taking flight or buckling. In the event of a tornado, a shipping container should be able to withstand winds between 161 and 186 mph. However, an F5 tornado will destroy everything in its path – including shipping containers.

In these types of storms, the biggest danger is the impact as a result of flying objects. Shipping containers stand up surprisingly well to airborne debris compared with similar structures such as sheds.


Shipping containers are pretty much waterproof, preventing rain, snow, and hail from getting inside, thanks to rubber seals around the doors.


Shipping containers can resist floodwater up to certain levels. Weak areas such as window frames and doors will eventually let in heavy floodwater but can resist such water infiltration much better than a house or shed.

Extreme Cold

While the shipping container itself won’t get damaged by cold, the contents could be cold-sensitive. Add extra insulation or a heating system if your goods are sensitive to cold temperatures.

Snow and Ice

A shipping container is strongest at the corners and edges. Snow and ice will accumulate on the roof in winter, causing buckling and holes when allowed to sit for too long. Always clear snow and ice off the roof.

Contact A&M Container

We’ve got plenty of durable, sturdy and long-lasting containers that will handle anything Mother Nature wants to throw at them! Obtain your free quote now when you contact us.