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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wat does the new gfs show for miami
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Quoting hydrus:
The ECMWF has cold weather for the south...Link
And the CMC has an Arctic blast waiting in the wings..Link
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jeff 9641 wat does the new gfs show for miami
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Quoting unf97:
Here is the NWS Jacksonville, FL AFD Long Range forecast (12/5/10 - 12/9/10)

LONG TERM...MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY
MODEL CONSENSUS CONTINUES TO POINT TO AN UNUSUALLY COLD PATTERN
FOR EARLY DECEMBER. LONGWAVE TROUGH OVER THE EAST COAST WILL ALLOW
COLD CANADIAN AIR TO FUNNEL INTO THE LOCAL FORECAST AREA. LATEST
GFS INDICATES 1000-850 THICKNESSES OF 1270 METERS WITH 850MB TEMPS
OF -6C WEDNESDAY MORNING WHICH WOULD UNDOUBTEDLY LEAD TO RECORD
SETTING COLD TEMPERATURES. THE CURRENT FORECAST WILL FEATURE HIGHS
IN THE 50S AND LOWS IN THE 20S (AWAY FROM THE COAST) FOR A 3 TO 4
DAY STRETCH NEXT WEEK.


The ECMWF has cold weather for the south...Link
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Quoting Minnemike:
wonder where Floodman is... we could compare the Wall of Wind to the Wall of Sound :D
Got to hear the "Wall of Sound" at Filmore East in '71. I left a changed man.
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Here is the NWS Jacksonville, FL AFD Long Range forecast (12/5/10 - 12/9/10)

LONG TERM...MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY
MODEL CONSENSUS CONTINUES TO POINT TO AN UNUSUALLY COLD PATTERN
FOR EARLY DECEMBER. LONGWAVE TROUGH OVER THE EAST COAST WILL ALLOW
COLD CANADIAN AIR TO FUNNEL INTO THE LOCAL FORECAST AREA. LATEST
GFS INDICATES 1000-850 THICKNESSES OF 1270 METERS WITH 850MB TEMPS
OF -6C WEDNESDAY MORNING WHICH WOULD UNDOUBTEDLY LEAD TO RECORD
SETTING COLD TEMPERATURES. THE CURRENT FORECAST WILL FEATURE HIGHS
IN THE 50S AND LOWS IN THE 20S (AWAY FROM THE COAST) FOR A 3 TO 4
DAY STRETCH NEXT WEEK.


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Excerpt from the Miami NWS Forecast Discussion released a few minutes ago:

"IN THE EXTENDED PERIOD SUNDAY THROUGH THURSDAY, THINGS ARE LOOKING A
LITTLE UN-SOUTH FLORIDA LIKE. THE AFOREMENTIONED CUT OFF LOW WILL OF
COURSE CONTINUE THE NW FLOW ALOFT AND ANOTHER COLD FRONT WILL MOVE
ACROSS THE REGION ON SUNDAY WHICH REINFORCES THE COOL AIR ALREADY IN
PLACE. THEN A STRONG SHORT WAVE TROUGH OVER SOUTH CENTRAL CANADA
WILL DIVE SOUTH INTO THE CENTRAL PLAINS EARLY NEXT WEEK AND WITH THE
MAIN LOW STILL IN PLACE OVER NEW ENGLAND WILL PLUNGE ALL OF THE
WAY INTO THE FL PENINSULA BY THE MIDDLE OF NEXT WEEK. THIS WILL
SET THE STAGE FOR THE COLDEST AIRMASS FOR THIS SEASON THUS FAR AND
POSSIBLY NEAR SOME RECORD LOW MINIMUMS FOR AT LEAST A PORTION OF
THE AREA. IF THE MODEL TRENDS CONTINUE, S FLA COULD EXPERIENCE A
WIDESPREAD FREEZE EVENT AROUND WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY MORNINGS OF
NEXT WEEK.
THE LATEST 00Z AND 12Z MEX GUIDANCE IS ONLY SHOWING MID
30S FOR THE NORTHERN ZONES AND 40S ELSEWHERE BUT CONSIDERING THIS
IS IN THE FAR EXTENDED AND INDICATING TEMPERATURE ANOMALIES
RUNNING MORE THAN 15 DEGREES BELOW NORMAL DICTATES THAT MODEL RUNS
WILL LOWER THESE VALUES AS TIME PROGRESSES. THE GFS AND ECMWF HAVE
BEEN CONSISTENT IN SHOWING THE PATTERN SETTING UP BUT HAVE
DIFFERED IN THE TIMING AND SEVERITY OF THE ARCTIC COLD OUTBREAK.
HOWEVER, A FREEZE OUTLOOK MAY BE NECESSARY WITH LATER FORECAST
RUNS IF THESE TRENDS CONTINUE AND MORE CONSISTENCY BETWEEN MODEL
RUNS TAKES SHAPE."

Forecast at a Glance for Miami:

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NASA making a BIG announcement in less than 10 mins regarding extraterrestreal (sp?) life! I hope is more than microbes on mars even tho that'd be pretty cool!
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 556
Quoting Jeff9641:


You might want to look at post # 54 because the NAO will shoot up come the middle of Dec. allowing a succession of big storms across the eastern US. It is looking like many across the east could see a white Christmas from NC MTS north.



Yes up there, but from living my whole life down in the Panhandle of Florida we always see these massive potentials only to moderate and weaken in the extreme South while the areas you mentioned (NC Mts and North) get walloped. That is what I mean by moderate. It will get really cold in the Panhandle of Florida indeed, but are these storms really going to be strong enough to cause mischief in N.Florida?
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All this talk of winter temperatures from the Central and Southern Floridians makes me want to pitch in with are forecast up in the Western Panhandle. It will get interesting the Monday after next if the current forecast holds up here. Highs anywhere from the mid 40s to mid 50s from an arrangement of models with the lows at 33 or lower with rain on all days involved in the forecast. I guess will see if the models moderate from the initial forecast points.
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64. JeffMasters (Admin)
Quoting biff4ugo:
The video says they can already to Cat 3 with the WoW. Dr. Masters only says cat 1??? Was the video just hype and Jeff has the good numbers?


The video is of a 2-fan system that they no longer have. I was told the current 6-fan wall can only do 90 - 95 mph winds.

Jeff Masters
I guess I'm the only one that notices... closed low over Panama. The "season" is over but it's not impossible. The GFS had been developing a storm 2 weeks out a few weeks ago so... the pattern still favors it.
Link
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Good morning all.

A Peek at the 2011 Hurricane Season
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Quoting hydrus:
This could pull a lot of cold air down south...


Yeah, that set-up no doubt would bring down a mother load of arctic air across all of the Eastern CONUS.
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Quoting unf97:
As Hurricane23 pointed out in his post earlier on this page, in La Nina winters, we can experience temporary pattern changes where major arctic air intrusions can occur. We are seeing this currently with the classic Omega blocking pattern over Greenland and the North Atlantic. It looks as if this blocking ridge will remain in place at least for the next 10 days. This is the classic set-up for major arctic air intrusions to sink south across most of the Eastern 2/3 of the CONUS as a deep upper trough will anchor over the region during this time, as well as the bitter cold wave over most of Europe will continue also next week.

Model guidance runs are hinting at the possibility of seeing hard freezes over North Florida and the Florida panhandle regions next week. Freezing temps may very well be possible as far south as interior South Central Florida peninsula to just north of Lake Okeechobee. As we head into the weekend, hopefully there will be more to fine tune from the models on what we may be dealing with possibly next week.

BTW, I registered a mornintg low of 27 degrees at my location here in Jax, the coldest so far this early season.
This could pull a lot of cold air down south...
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omg nobody writing
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As Hurricane23 pointed out in his post earlier on this page, in La Nina winters, we can experience temporary pattern changes where major arctic air intrusions can occur. We are seeing this currently with the classic Omega blocking pattern over Greenland and the North Atlantic. It looks as if this blocking ridge will remain in place at least for the next 10 days. This is the classic set-up for major arctic air intrusions to sink south across most of the Eastern 2/3 of the CONUS as a deep upper trough will anchor over the region during this time, as well as the bitter cold wave over most of Europe will continue also next week.

Model guidance runs are hinting at the possibility of seeing hard freezes over North Florida and the Florida panhandle regions next week. Freezing temps may very well be possible as far south as interior South Central Florida peninsula to just north of Lake Okeechobee. As we head into the weekend, hopefully there will be more to fine tune from the models on what we may be dealing with possibly next week.

BTW, I registered a mornintg low of 27 degrees at my location here in Jax, the coldest so far this early season.
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sorry jeff im in school i cant get it can u tell me wat it shows
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wonder where Floodman is... we could compare the Wall of Wind to the Wall of Sound :D
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where did everyone go and jeff
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so wat does the euro show for miami
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do u think it will jeff
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.."Hots on for Nowhere"..?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
i hope it gets cold when i go 2 orlando december 18th through the 20th jeff 9641
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Shouldn't "Yakety Sax" be playing?
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From The Weather Channel:

Local Text Forecast for
Davie, FL

Dec 2 Today
Mostly sunny. High near 75F. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph.
Dec 2 Tonight
Mainly clear skies. Low 52F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Dec 3 Tomorrow
Mainly sunny. High 74F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.
Dec 3 Tomorrow night
Mainly clear early, then a few clouds later on. Low 54F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Dec 4 Saturday
Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 70s and lows in the mid 50s.
Dec 5 Sunday
Times of sun and clouds. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the low 50s.
Dec 6 Monday
Abundant sunshine. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the mid 40s.
Dec 7 Tuesday
Sunshine. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the upper 40s.
Dec 8 Wednesday
Plenty of sun. Highs in the upper 60s and lows in the low 50s.
Dec 9 Thursday
Sunny. Highs in the mid 70s and lows in the mid 50s.
Dec 10 Friday
Mix of sun and clouds. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the low 60s.
Dec 11 Saturday
Partly cloudy. Highs in the low 80s and lows in the low 60s
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and last but not least west palm beach for high and lows
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jeff 9641 buddy i said for davie fl
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Whats a Jeff ?

Ack,snicker,,,chuckle.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 423 Comments: 127810
and how about lows for davie florida jeff 9641
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because jeff is so good at the weather i want 2 know wat the gfs is showing
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"send in the clowns..."
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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.