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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130. PSLFLCaneVet
2:00 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
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.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
129. SuperYooper
1:55 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
PSL, according to my map, you won't have to worry about drought. Thought you should know.
Member Since: August 18, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 1602
128. PSLFLCaneVet
1:53 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
maybe i should refer to ya as the desert se


LOL. Nice.

My immediate area is all white sugar sand, so any moisture goes away very quickly. On the plus side, no flooding issues.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
127. DontAnnoyMe
1:53 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
maybe i should refer to ya as the desert se


Thanks to the lack of tropical moisture. Good that there were no storms, and bad that there were no storms.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
126. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:53 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
125. severstorm
1:53 AM GMT on December 03, 2010

getting chilly now
Member Since: November 25, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 956
124. DontAnnoyMe
1:50 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


Seconded! October and November were as dry as I can recall, here. Fire danger is climbing, daily.


Latest, out today. Getting worse.

Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
123. FLPandhandleJG
1:50 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
122. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:48 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


Seconded! October and November were as dry as I can recall, here. Fire danger is climbing, daily.
maybe i should refer to ya as the desert se
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
121. FLPandhandleJG
1:48 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Member Since: August 15, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2133
120. PSLFLCaneVet
1:45 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Hello. So that's where all the rain is. Send it northwest, please.


Seconded! October and November were as dry as I can recall, here. Fire danger is climbing, daily.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
119. DontAnnoyMe
1:41 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting DDR:
Good evening all
It rained all day in T&T today
Looks like its about to rain whole night.
Radar...Link


Hello. So that's where all the rain is. Send it northwest, please.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
118. DDR
1:38 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Good evening all
It rained all day in T&T today
Looks like its about to rain whole night.
Radar...Link
Member Since: April 27, 2007 Posts: 14 Comments: 1693
117. DontAnnoyMe
1:35 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting PensacolaDoug:


T=DP and no rain? That's not fair.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
116. PensacolaDoug
1:31 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 553
115. PSLFLCaneVet
1:26 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
its 28.6 here with a chill of 22.7



It's 57.4 here, heading for a low around 40. The globe must be cooling!!

S. flag:on.

Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
114. SuperYooper
1:21 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
OK, so here is my idea. Global warming will melt a lot of water, raising ocean levels again. That should make it like back in the Cretaceous period, where the middle of the continent is under water. That will put Lake Superior within easy distance to warm water/beachfront property? I can't lose. Time to start buying property in Minnesota.


Member Since: August 18, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 1602
113. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
1:21 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Mauritius Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #15
FORTE TEMPETE TROPICALE ABELE (02-20102011)
4:00 AM Réunion December 3 2010
=======================================

At 0:00 AM UTC, Severe Tropical Storm Abele (987 hPa) located at 18.4S 90.2E has 10 minute sustained winds of 50 knots with gusts of 85 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving southeast at 10 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T3.0/3.5/W1.5/12H

Forecast and Intensity
========================
12 HRS: 20.2S 92.0E - 40 knots (Tempête Tropicale Modereé)
24 HRS: 21.8S 93.3E - 30 knots (Depression Tropicale)
48 HRS: 24.4S 95.4E - 30 knots (Depression Extratropicale)
72 HRS: 24.4S 98.6E - 25 knots (Depression Extratropicale)

Additional Information
======================

Northwesterly wind shear is now obvious on multispectral satellite imagery. System is expected to keep on weakening as it undergoes an increasing westerly wind shear associated with marginal ocean heat content. Extratropical transition is expected to be ended on and after 60 hrs.

This system has crossed the eastern boundary of our area of responsibility. The next tropical cyclone bulletins will be issued at 0600 AM UTC by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Tropical Cyclone Warning Center Perth.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44849
112. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
1:16 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
its 28.6 here with a chill of 22.7
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
111. SuperYooper
1:14 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Keep, that picture looks like an impressionist had some fun with fruit. Great pic.

It's 25 degrees out. I could move somewhere warmer but if I give up my property now, I won't be able to make a fortune when global warming makes our place perfect for the retirees.
Member Since: August 18, 2010 Posts: 14 Comments: 1602
110. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:56 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
sorry for caps did not check caplocks
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
109. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
12:55 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting Vincent4989:

What happened to the orange!!?
ICE COATING AFTER OVERNIGHT SPRAYING TO PROTECT THE FRUIT FROM FREEZING MOST ORANGES IRONICLY ARE MOSTLY USED FOR FROZEN CONCETRATED JUICE AS IT NORMMALLY CANNOT BE SOLD ON SHELVES BECAUSE OF COLD WEATHER SOFTNESS THAT OCCURS IN COLD WEATHER EVENTS
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
108. NHCaddict
12:47 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
A little citrus freeze protection info:

http://www.flcitrusmutual.com/news/freeze.aspx
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 71
107. hydrus
12:43 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


I seriously doubt an ice storm covered that orange. More likely, it was sprayed to protect it from freezing. They do that to peaches and strawberries here in NC.
it was sprayed to protect it from freezing. lol...I know they do that very thing,,,Still sounds funny..
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20536
106. Grecojdw
12:37 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Still low 50s for highs and low 30s for lows with rain each day a week ahead of time in the Panhandle of Florida. I wonder if it modifies it will dash my hopes once again:o
Member Since: January 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 339
105. DontAnnoyMe
12:37 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting Orcasystems:


Just a guess I my part... it froze?


I seriously doubt an ice storm covered that orange. More likely, it was sprayed to protect it from freezing. They do that to peaches and strawberries here in NC.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
104. Grecojdw
12:34 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
46 currently in the panhandle of Florida with a low of 31 tonight. Wearing lots of layers up here. The heater stopped working:o
Member Since: January 6, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 339
103. NHCaddict
12:34 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Citrus growers water the trees when a freeze is expected. The ice insulates the tree and helps protect it from the cold. I have pictures like that from the grove outside my living room window.

Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 71
101. Orcasystems
12:28 AM GMT on December 03, 2010
Quoting Vincent4989:

What happened to the orange!!?


Just a guess I my part... it froze?
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Heh, in central GA we're supposed to hit 23 tonight with consistent low to mid 20's next week, and December just started. Maybe we'll hit the teens by January. >.>
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ncstorm:
they calling for snow here on the COAST this weekend in wilmington


OMG, the dramatizing! "THERE EXISTS THE POSSIBILITY THAT THIS SYSTEM COULD BE VIGOROUS ENOUGH TO RESULT IN SNOW ACROSS THE NORTHERN TIER" is not calling for snow. It's stating that snow is possible, given the proper atmospheric conditions.

"Even IF it happens (only 30% POP), you won't be sledding (very little QPF with this system).
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Quoting DoverWxwatchter:
Blow me down those fans are huge! I've wondered how strong a wind would have to be to knock me down. It would be interesting to see what category knocked me over.

Well Hurricane Ike(110 MPH Category 2) Knocked over Mike Bettes with gusts of 105 to 115 MPH
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:

What happened to the orange!!?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting SQUAWK:


Well, just like hurricane season, maybe they don't trust the models. When did the models become so accurate that you just believe what they are putting out. I must have missed that moment in time.
Here,s cold..The Winter of 1899....Winter weather

On February 12, snow started falling from Fort Myers and Tampa in Florida west towards New Orleans. Blizzard conditions were reported north of Tampa along the west coast of Florida due to ocean-effect snow. The storm crossed the Florida peninsula and intensified as it rapidly moved up the Eastern United States. High Point, North Carolina recorded 10-12" (25-30 cm) of snow, and temperatures as low as 10 F (%u221212 C) on the 11th, 5 F (%u221215 C) on the 13th, and 3 F (%u221216 C) on the 14th. It was said to be the coldest weather known to the oldest inhabitants. Washington, D.C. recorded its all-time record single snowfall of 20.5 inches (52 cm), though it was later broken. Cape May, New Jersey recorded 34 inches (86 cm), which is the highest single storm snowfall total ever in New Jersey, in what is normally the least-snowy part of the state.

The port of New Orleans was completely iced over by February 13, with ice floes reportedly floating out of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. On February 14 the city experienced its coldest ever Mardi Gras reading of 22F. The Krewe of Rex Parade was delayed while snow was removed from the route.[1]

Also on February 14, the low temperature in Miami was 29 F (%u22122 C), the second-coldest (and the first sub-freezing) temperature that the city has ever recorded.

North of the Mid-Atlantic region, the storm weakened somewhat, but it was still a very powerful blizzard. New York's Central Park recorded 16 inches (41 cm), which at the time was its third-biggest snowfall, but many surrounding areas recorded 2-3 feet (60 to 90 cm), as did most of New England.

There are even Cuban reports (made by the U.S. Weather Bureau, as Cuba was a U.S. territory at the time) that the country experienced hard frost which killed or damaged many crops. This was despite the cold air first having to cross the Florida Strait and its warm Gulf Stream waters. The blizzard of 1899 is referred to as "The Snow King".

The only other cold wave of such severity in the Southeast was the 1985 Florida freeze, which destroyed the citrus groves in central Florida, and forced the industry into south Florida.
[edit] References

* Kocin, Paul J.; Weiss, Alan D.; Wagner, Joseph J. (1988), "The Great Arctic Outbreak and East Coast Blizzard of February 1899",''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''with ice floes reportedly floating out of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. lol
Member Since: September 27, 2007 Posts: 1 Comments: 20536
2011 Hurricane Predictions
Check out what my latest predictions for the upcoming hurricane season are...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Mauritius Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory #14
CYCLONE TROPICAL ABELE (02-20102011)
22:00 PM Réunion December 2 2010
=======================================

At 18:00 PM UTC, Tropical Cyclone Abele (975 hPa) located at 17.6S 89.5E has 10 minute sustained winds of 65 knots with gusts of 90 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving east southeast at 10 knots.

Dvorak Intensity: T4.0/4.5/W0.5/6H

Hurricane Force Winds
======================
20 NM from the center

Storm Force Winds
===============
35 NM from the center extending up to 40 NM in the southern semi-circle and up to 45 NM in the northeastern quadrant

Gale-Force Winds
======================
60 NM radius from the center extending 95 NM in the eastern semi-circle

Near Gale-Force Winds
=====================
80 NM radius from the center extending up to 120 NM from the center in the southern semi-circle and up to 130 NM in the northeastern quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
========================
12 HRS: 18.7S 91.0E - 50 knots (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
24 HRS: 20.4S 92.8E - 40 knots (Tempête Tropicale Modereé)
48 HRS: 24.0S 95.0E - 30 knots (Depression Tropicale)
72 HRS: 24.9S 97.3E - 25 knots (Depression Extratropicale)

Additional Information
======================

On sea surface temperatures lower than 26C, system is now suffering due to lack of oceanic heat content. System is expected to keep on weakening as it undergoes an increasing westerly wind shear associated with marginal energetic potential.

Models are in good agreement on the track forecast mainly for the next 2 days. After that and until the end of forecast period, there is some spread as the system should be a remnant low by that time.

Extratropical transition is expected to be ended on and after 60 hours.
Member Since: May 24, 2006 Posts: 50 Comments: 44849
For West Palm Beach

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they calling for snow here on the COAST this weekend in wilmington and next week setting up to be real interesting for us as well..

.SHORT TERM /FRIDAY THROUGH SATURDAY NIGHT/...
AS OF 3 PM THURSDAY...THE PRIMARY FEATURE FOR THE SHORT TERM WILL BE
THE STRONG SHORTWAVE MOVING ACROSS THE AREA LATE SATURDAY AND EARLY
SUNDAY. UNTIL THEN...GENERALLY WEAK HIGH PRESSURE WILL PREVAIL. BOTH
THE GFS AND NAM HAVE TRENDED TOWARD A SLIGHTLY STRONGER SOLUTION FOR
THE SHORTWAVE AND SURFACE LOW MOVING THROUGH THE AREA LATE SATURDAY
AFTERNOON AND NIGHT. THERE ARE ENOUGH DIFFERENCES IN THE MODELS
THAT THERE ARE QUESTIONS REGARDING WHERE PRECIPITATION MAY FALL. FOR
NOW...HAVE INCLUDED A CHANCE TO SLIGHT CHANCE OF LIGHT RAIN
SATURDAY NIGHT AS GUIDANCE IS WARM ENOUGH FOR A LIGHT BUT COLD
RAIN. HOWEVER...THERE EXISTS THE POSSIBILITY THAT THIS SYSTEM COULD
BE VIGOROUS ENOUGH TO RESULT IN SNOW ACROSS THE NORTHERN TIER
SATURDAY NIGHT AS PRECIPITATION RATES COOL THE COLUMN BELOW THE
CLOUD LAYER.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jeff9641:
High in Orlando of 53 next Thursday with a low of 32 and that's downtown up by me I will probably see temps in the 20's for lows maybe for 3 nights in a row. I sure hope West Palm Beach and Miami offices lowered there numbers because right now their posting much higher numbers than what the models are saying.


Well, just like hurricane season, maybe they don't trust the models. When did the models become so accurate that you just believe what they are putting out. I must have missed that moment in time.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Hi all.

Saw these storm pics and wanted to share...

Link

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jeff 9641 is west palm beach the same thing as miami
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jeff 9641 tell me about the latest gfs
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
wat does the new gfs show for miami
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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.