The Wall of Wind: destroying buildings in the cause of science

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:00 PM GMT on December 02, 2010

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During my week at the National Hurricane Center this October that I spent as part of their Visiting Scientist Program, I had the opportunity to visit one of the most remarkable engineering efforts used in hurricane research--the International Hurricane Research Center's "Wall of Wind" (WoW) on the campus of Florida International University. As I pulled into the parking lot next to the big metal building that houses the Wall of Wind research lab, I was met by Erik Salna, the Associate Director of the International Hurricane Research Center. He walked me over to their 2-story high "Wall of Wind", which consists of a bank of six 500 horsepower "hot-rod" auto engines with propellers attached, arranged in a box pattern. When the six engines are all fired up, they can generate Category 1 hurricane wind speeds of 80 - 85 mph (not to mention an unholy racket!) Researchers at the Wall of Wind study how full-scale buildings fare under the onslaught of these winds, and in the presence of flying debris and wind-driven rain. Fifteen peer-reviewed journal articles have resulted from WoW research, and changes to the Florida Building Code for 2010 have been recommended by the Technical Advisory Committee at the 2010 Florida Building Code meeting, based on WoW research. It was pretty cool to see how the WoW group tested different shingles, roof slopes, and roof edge and corner designs by wiring the roofs being tested with an elaborate network of pressure transducers. WoW research has shown the importance of protecting your windows with shutters--an open window in a house with a ceiling hatch increases the wind load on the windward side of a gable roof by 45%, greatly increasing the chances of complete roof failure.


Figure 1. Now if I just reach out and flip the switch to my left, my hair will get massively blow-dried! The current 6-fan version of the Wall of Wind (which became operational in 2007) can generate Category 1 hurricane winds of 80 - 85 mph. The reinsurance company Renaissance Re Holdings Ltd provided the funding for the 6-fan Wall of Wind.

Phase 2: the 12-fan Wall of Wind
Last year, Congress thought highly enough of the Wall of Wind's research results to appropriate $1 million to fund a new 12-fan Wall of Wind that will be able to generate wind speeds of 140 mph--Category 4 strength. Additional support is coming from the State of Florida. The new fans are truly massive, and it will be an impressive sight and sound when the new wall goes live. The new wall should greatly aid efforts to engineer new buildings that can withstand the winds of a major hurricane.

One other cool thing the WoW people are doing is sponsoring a Wall of Wind contest for high school students. Each year, local student compete to design a roof structure that fare the best in the Wall of Wind in some engineering category. This year, the kids had to design a roof that would minimize the amount of loose gravel that would fly off a 14x14" test roof. There were some very ingenious entries the kids designed.


Figure 2. The new 12-fan version of the Wall of Wind is currently under construction, and will be able to generate Category 4 hurricane winds of 140 mph when it is completed. Walter Conklin (left) is Laboratory Manager of the Laboratory for Wind Engineering Research, and James Erwin (right) is a research scientist studying hurricane wind damage.

Links
The Wall of Wind website has some links to videos of the Wall in action.

I'll have a new post on Friday.

Jeff Masters

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What is the world coming to......

Help police! Someone stole my snowman

LONDON - As Arctic blizzards swept across southeast England, stranding hundreds in their cars and bringing motorways to a virtual halt in whiteout conditions, Kent police received a strange call on their emergency number.

"I haven't been out to check on him for five hours but I went outside for a fag (cigarette) and he's gone," said the female caller.

When the operator asked who had gone she replied: "My snowman. I thought that with it being icy and there not being anybody about he'd be safe.

"It ain't a nice road but you don't expect anybody to nick your snowman," she added.

Police were most definitely not amused.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Complete Update





Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Snowarmer thank you for the address and the thought of our soilders at this time of year my brother has been in the army for 17 years has always come home safely but many of his fellow soilders have not this may be the only christmas card i send this year but i put it in the mail before i responded to your post...

thank you
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Quoting PakaSurvivor:
Good Morning All! Florida's Ice Box AKA Crestview FL was 28 this morning at 4AM. I and the dog are really beginning to hate going out in the morning.



True...I got 28 now around Marianna/Blountstown!!

Time to move to the KEYS!!
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Good Morning All! Florida's Ice Box AKA Crestview FL was 28 this morning at 4AM. I and the dog are really beginning to hate going out in the morning.
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When filling out your Christmas cards this year, take ONE CARD and SEND it to this address: A Recovering American Soldier, c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20307-5001. If we pass this on and everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these wonderful special people who have sacrificed so much would get. PLEASE do this!
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220. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Perth
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #16
TROPICAL CYCLONE ABELE (02U)
2:00 PM WST December 3 2010
=======================================

At 6:00 AM UTC, Tropical Cyclone Abele, Category One (990 hPa) located at 19.1S 91.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving southeast at 12 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T2.5/3.0/W1.5/24HRS

Gale Force Winds
================
80 NM from the center

Forecast and Intensity
======================
12 HRS: 20.7S 93.4E - 35 knots (CAT 1)
24 HRS: 22.2S 94.5E - 35 knots (CAT 1)
48 HRS: 24.4S 96.6E - 30 knots (Tropical Low)
72 HRS: 24.5S 98.7E - 30 knots (Tropical Low)

Additional Information
=========================
Tropical Cyclone Abele has weakened over the past 24 hours. Recent visible satellite imagery reveals an exposed low level circulation centre with deep convection confined to southeast quadrant. This is in response to increasing W/NW shear. UW-CIMSS indicates WNW shear of about 25 knots at 030600UTC.

Dvorak: Based on a shear pattern, centre approximately 0.5 degree from edge of convection so DT=2.5. MET is 2.5 based on W trend with PAT unchanged at 2.5. So FT is 2.5 and CI is 3.0. ASCAT pass at 030241 UTC showed winds to 45 knots.

Abele is over unfavourable SSTs of 24 to 26 degrees and together with the increasing shear the system will continue to weaken. Gales are likely to be confined to the southern semicircle after 031800 UTC.

Abele is being steered by an upper level trough to the southwest. General southeast motion should continue in the short term. In the longer term the remnants are likely to be steered to the west under the influence of a ridge of high pressure.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 45282
Quoting Grothar:


I don't like to over compliment, because sometimes it sounds a little trite, but you should have been a casting director or in the visual arts. You have an incredible knack of finding an appropriate and fitting visual for a particular moment. That is an art my friend; a true artists touch. I hit it by luck sometimes, but never by design. That particular neuron is missing in me. Two Kudi for you. LOL (never knew the plural for Kudos)


+100
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Quoting Grothar:


I don't like to over compliment, because sometimes it sounds a little trite, but you should have been a casting director or in the visual arts. You have an incredible knack of finding an appropriate and fitting visual for a particular moment. That is an art my friend; a true artists touch. I hit it by luck sometimes, but never by design. That particular neuron is missing in me. Two Kudi for you. LOL (never knew the plural for Kudos)



I thank you, my friend. I am very happy to have a place to share time with such good people. I am humbled by your kind words. If I have a gift, then I am equally lucky to have a place where others can enjoy it.

I hope you have a wonderful night. I must get some bit of sleep, before the alarm goes off.
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Good night, all. Once again, it was a great time here. Thank you! Catch ya on the 'morrow.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


A nice image. You have a way. Kudos.




I don't like to over compliment, because sometimes it sounds a little trite, but you should have been a casting director or in the visual arts. You have an incredible knack of finding an appropriate and fitting visual for a particular moment. That is an art my friend; a true artists touch. I hit it by luck sometimes, but never by design. That particular neuron is missing in me. Two Kudi for you. LOL (never knew the plural for Kudos)
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Quoting Grothar:


Once when my mother was about 96, she was staying with us and I had fallen asleep on the couch. She used a wheelchair a lot then and I could hear this little squeek and felt a blanket going over me. I never opened my eyes. I guess we feel the same about our own. No matter how old they are we still see them as kids. Funny how some things stick in your mind.


A nice image. You have a way. Kudos.


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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Thanksya both. With that, I leave you with this



Love that tune.

Ah, the days of tuning your own axe, onstage. Bands today have so many instruments, I believe that to be a lost art.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


I am the eldest of 3. Guess that's why I still feel like a kid ;-)


Once when my mother was about 96, she was staying with us and I had fallen asleep on the couch. She used a wheelchair a lot then and I could hear this little squeek and felt a blanket going over me. I never opened my eyes. I guess we feel the same about our own. No matter how old they are we still see them as kids. Funny how some things stick in your mind.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Agreed. That was nice!


Thanksya both. With that, I leave you with this

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Quoting Grothar:


I'd vote for that one. Very fitting.



Agreed. That was nice!
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


10-4. I think we need a Animated Emoticon OTD award. I nominate myself for today's.


I'd vote for that one. Very fitting.
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Quoting Grothar:


I think one matures much faster with older siblings. Observation and imitation are great learning tools.


I am the eldest of 3. Guess that's why I still feel like a kid ;-)
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



I'll send you the numbered account destination.

(although, I cannot hide from the Grillin')

Hello Dear.

That ought to bring a chuckle, later.


10-4. I think we need a Animated Emoticon OTD award. I nominate myself for today's.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Hopefully the girl was too


Let's just say I know just how far to go on the blog. (smiles quietly)

I had 8 older brothers and sisters. I think one matures much faster with older siblings. Observation and imitation are great learning tools.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


You may need 2 accounts, if you keep it up.



I'll send you the numbered account destination.

(although, I cannot hide from the Grillin')

Hello Dear.

That ought to bring a chuckle, later.
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Quoting Grothar:


Ah, he is a champ about it. He gets some good laughs at my expense. I get a kick out of it.


I do too, he's pretty funny.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:



It's one of my tunes. Available on ITUNES.
I make 70 cents whenever one of my tunes is downloaded.


That rocks.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Oops - maybe he won't catch it. No matter, I can handle friendly insults. :-)


Ah, he is a champ about it. He gets some good laughs at my expense. I get a kick out of it.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Sounds like Kid Rock.



It's one of my tunes. Available on ITUNES.
I make 70 cents whenever one of my tunes is downloaded.
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Quoting Grothar:


Not by much! LOL I was an early bloomer!


Hopefully the girl was too
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Wait a minute, here. If you're younger than me, that means you were pretty darned young to be dancin' with a chick.


Not by much! LOL I was an early bloomer!
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Thanks! I'll have to add space. LOL


You may need 2 accounts, if you keep it up.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


WOTD! Congrats.



Thanks! I'll have to add space. LOL
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
RE: 187


Girl was kinda homely tho...


OOH. Cold!
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Quoting Grothar:


My first slow dance was to 'Unchained Melody' by Al Hibler in 1955. I'll never forget it.


Wait a minute, here. If you're younger than me, that means you were pretty darned young to be dancin' with a chick.
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Quoting Grothar:


hydrus will have fun with that one. He found someone older than I. Be careful he can be ruthless. LOL


Oops - maybe he won't catch it. No matter, I can handle friendly insults. :-)
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
My 1st slow dance was at Seville Quarter in Pensacola, prolly 1973. Eagles, "Best of my Love".


My first slow dance was to 'Unchained Melody' by Al Hibler in 1955. I'll never forget it.
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Quoting Grothar:


What do you mean, not quite that old. I remember that day very well. LOL


LOL
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RE: 187


Girl was kinda homely tho...
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Losin your job and it makes your blood boil
Can't even go to the beach, it's covered in oil
ya turn on the tube, what do get?
Same old Obama BP bulls...t
So ya grab the remote, change the channel
that don't help, it's just another scandal
ya can't run, can't hide, can't get away
cause it's the same sh#t, different day..


From the song,
"Same Sh#t, Different
Day"
On ITUNEs


Sounds like Kid Rock.
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Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


I was about to be a teen - a bit too young to care at the time.


hydrus will have fun with that one. He found someone older than I. Be careful he can be ruthless. LOL
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


Lightning sparks a preponderance of our wildfires. This usually occurs in the spring, after a long dry spell.


WOTD! Congrats.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


Unmasked! No, I am not quite that old. It happened a bit before I was brought into the world. Early 60's, for me.


What do you mean, not quite that old. I remember that day very well. LOL
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My 1st slow dance was at Seville Quarter in Pensacola, prolly 1973. Eagles, "Best of my Love".
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This turned out to be one of my faves. Was prob. one of my first slow dances.
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Losin your job and it makes your blood boil
Can't even go to the beach, it's covered in oil
ya turn on the tube, what do get?
Same old Obama BP bulls...t
So ya grab the remote, change the channel
that don't help, it's just another scandal
ya can't run, can't hide, can't get away
cause it's the same sh#t, different day..


From the song,
"Same Sh#t, Different Day"
On ITUNEs
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Quoting Grothar:


Not to be personal, but you are not old enough to really remember that day, are you?????



I was about to be a teen - a bit too young to care at the time.
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Quoting Grothar:


Not to be personal, but you are not old enough to really remember that day, are you?????



Unmasked! No, I am not quite that old. It happened a bit before I was brought into the world. Early 60's, for me.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Sweet!

A sad day indeed! This is a personal favorite.





Not to be personal, but you are not old enough to really remember that day, are you?????

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Sweet!

A sad day indeed! This is a personal favorite.



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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.