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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Sweet!

A sad day indeed! This is a personal favorite.



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Quoting Grothar:


BTW,did you catch post 161?


I did, a great rendition. Very cool.

I'll listen to your last clip before another post.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



It's been a strange year for weather in FL, without a doubt.


BTW,did you catch post 161?
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


I truly would like to say aye.


Since it is almost 12:30, I think this might be appropriate

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Quoting Grothar:


That song has a very special meaning for me. Right when I first entered the army. ( You sure you don't know me?)


I truly would like to say aye.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


That song has a very special meaning for me. Right when I first entered the army. ( You sure you don't know me?)
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Quoting Grothar:


Since I leave right near the ocean, we hardly get any rain. When the storms move in from the west, they break up as soon as they hit the coast. I believe it is the driest season in Broward in many years. Yes, extremely dry.



It's been a strange year for weather in FL, without a doubt.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


I tried to edit the post, it failed, so I replaced it. What was there had wind noise, and someone's child in the background.


BTW, thanks for the rain tunes. Is it as dry in your area?


Since I leave right near the ocean, we hardly get any rain. When the storms move in from the west, they break up as soon as they hit the coast. I believe it is the driest season in Broward in many years. Yes, extremely dry.
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Quoting Grothar:


You certainly have an eye for the aesthetic. I heard it just fine.


I tried to edit the post, it failed, so I replaced it. What was there had wind noise, and someone's child in the background.


BTW, thanks for the rain tunes. Is it as dry in your area?
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


You certainly have an eye for the aesthetic. I heard it just fine.
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Crap, disregard that one. Audio is messed up.
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Quoting Grothar:
I think everyone is asleep.



Not yet, just conversing elsewhere for a bit. I'll trot out a tune, momentarily.
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I think everyone is asleep.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:



There'll be a WHOLE lot of "poofin'" goin' on!


The worse part is we'll have to comb our hair.
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Quoting Patrap:
Wait till video Live blogging comes to the Main here,.

We can fuss and jaw jack face to face.

Wouldnt that be cool?


ACK!...

34 thumbnails and the noise would be deafening.

Mute,ignore,BANN,,etc,etc,etc..




There'll be a WHOLE lot of "poofin'" goin' on!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 553
Quoting Tango01:


yes, I think I did miss it.


It's OK. It was just a little private humor. No one is on anyway. LOL
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Quoting Grothar:


Yeah, I sort of figured that out when I keyed in 'Dr. Klotzbach' on Youtube to post this. I think you missed the point. j/k


yes, I think I did miss it.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Bring on the driver with the "carry" shaft.

Lift, clean and place?


Since it looks like it is just us, here is another for you and all of Florida


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Hey Orca, you still floating around?
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Endless possibilities. LMAO.

I will have to ruminate a bit.
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Quoting Tango01:


He is Dr. Phil Klotzbach from Colorado State U. He's pretty much who is leading hurricane predictions within Dr. Gray's group.


Yeah, I sort of figured that out when I keyed in 'Dr. Klotzbach' on Youtube to post this. I think you missed the point. j/k
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Quoting Patrap:
Wait till video Live blogging comes to the Main here,.

We can fuss and jaw jack face to face.

Wouldnt that be cool?


ACK!...

34 thumbnails and the noise would be deafening.

Mute,ignore,BANN,,etc,etc,etc..



Will they have a "SHUT YOUR FACE" button?

Boy, that would be something.
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Quoting Grothar:
This guy looks eerily familiar!!!!



He is Dr. Phil Klotzbach from Colorado State U. He's pretty much who is leading hurricane predictions within Dr. Gray's group.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Ummm wet?



Bring on the driver with the "carry" shaft.

Lift, clean and place?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Wait till video Live blogging comes to the Main here,.

We can fuss and jaw jack face to face.

Wouldnt that be cool?


ACK!...

34 thumbnails and the noise would be deafening.

Mute,ignore,BANN,,etc,etc,etc..

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Sup Grothar,..

..chilling and walking off Turkey week.


Another trip around SOL almost done.

Life is Good,hope yers iz as well.


So far, so good! Hope we all have a good year. At least I'm still breathing.
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Quoting DoverWxwatchter:

I heard about a lot of wildfires in Florida back in 98 I believe during a hot dry summer.  Hope some rain comes Florida way soon and keeps the risk down.



Thank you.

You are correct, 98 was a really bad year. Scars are still evident, even now. Slabs, where homes stood, some can be seen traveling I95. PSL had quite an outbreak of fire, many homes burned.
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This guy looks eerily familiar!!!!

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Sup Grothar,..

..chilling and walking off Turkey week.


Another trip around SOL almost done.

Life is Good,hope yers iz as well.
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Quoting Grothar:


This is for you




Thank you, my friend! Great tune.
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Quoting Patrap:
Atlantic Ocean View (Updated ~3 hours)






YO! Hey, Pat! How's it.... going?
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I have to link it, embed disabled.

Spider-pig, Spider-pig.....



Link
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Semi frigid from da Local Boyz tonight outta NOLA NWS


542
fxus64 klix 030127
afdlix


Area forecast discussion
National Weather Service New Orleans la
727 PM CST Thursday Dec 2 2010


Long term...


Heading into the extended period...a much colder pattern looks to set up across the eastern half of the nation.

The initial setup
for this event will be a shortwave trough digging into the Great Lakes states on Saturday. This trough will force a cold front through the forecast area Saturday night.

At the same time...a
strong upper level low over southeast Canada will deepen and dig
south and east into New England.

As this upper level
deepens...cold air from the Canadian plains will be drawn southward across the Continental U.S.. this colder airmass should spread into
the forecast area on Sunday and remain in place through the end of
the workweek.

Initially...temperatures will drop back into the
middle 50s for highs with lows dropping to around freezing over the Northshore.
However...another short wave impulse will dive
south through the area on Tuesday on the back side of the strong upper level low over the northeast. The associated cold front will pass through the County Warning Area on Tuesday.
There may be enough moisture aloft associated with the trough axis to squeeze out a few showers
on Tuesday.
However...any precipitation will be very limited.
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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


Thanks! Bring on the rain. I'll be ecstatic, if that pans out. We're about 17 inches under normal for the year, by my measurements.


This is for you

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Actually itsa just Chilly here.

The Doom I smelled was the Vacuum Burning up a carpet thread in da motor.

Current Conditions

Mid City Station, New Orleans, Louisiana (PWS)
Updated: 1 sec ago
Clear
46.3 °F
Clear
Windchill: 46 °F
Humidity: 70%
Dew Point: 37 °F
Wind: 0.0 mph
Wind Gust: 0.0 mph
Pressure: 30.29 in (Rising)
Visibility: 10.0 miles
UV: 0 out of 16
Pollen: 2.90 out of 12
Pollen Forecast new!
Clouds:
Clear -
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 25 ft

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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Multi-level humor. LOL

How's the golf game?


Ummm wet?
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Patrap:
Doom.

I smell doom.



In honor of the Homertars: We are all DOOM.
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Quoting Orcasystems:


My imaginary friend thinks you have have serious problems



Multi-level humor. LOL

How's the golf game?
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Atlantic Ocean View (Updated ~3 hours)




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Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


Dang, I guess last night's excitement was draining for the folk usually here.

I'm within a hairsbreadth of either, posting a song, or a movie line. Pick your poison.


My imaginary friend thinks you all have serious problems
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting DoverWxwatchter:

That's really arid.  Does Florida get many fires in the winter when it's dry or is that a warm season thing?


Lightning sparks a preponderance of our wildfires. This usually occurs in the spring, after a long dry spell.
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Dang, I guess last night's excitement was draining for the folk usually here.

I'm within a hairsbreadth of either, posting a song, or a movie line. Pick your poison.
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Quoting FLPandhandleJG:
yep very dry in the panhandle of FL :(


Not a bad idea to leave a never empty bowl of water out for the critters.
By the looks of it nuthin happenen any time soon.
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Hi All,
Record Report
Statement as of 10:25 am EST on December 2, 2010
... Record low seasonal precipitation for Daytona Beach...
A new seasonal record low precipitation value of 4.62 inches was observed for the climatological autumn season at Daytona Beach. The previous record for the season was 5.37 inches, set in 1925.



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yep very dry in the panhandle of FL :(
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Quoting SuperYooper:
PSL, according to my map, you won't have to worry about drought. Thought you should know.


Thanks! Bring on the rain. I'll be ecstatic, if that pans out. We're about 17 inches under normal for the year, by my measurements.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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