The first hurricane of 2014, Hurricane Amanda, became the strongest May eastern Pacific hurricane on record Sunday morning, as peak winds approached that of a Category 5 storm. By Monday evening it dipped to Category 2 but, unexpectedly, regained strength Tuesday to return to Category 3. Forecasters expect Amanda to weaken to a tropical storm by Thursday.
The six-month hurricane season begins June 1, and while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects a normal to above-normal season in the Pacific Ocean, the outlook for the Atlantic is expected to be near-normal to below-normal, and El Niño may be the reason.
Texas Tech University leads the nation in wind research. Texas Tech University has a number of researchers with extensive experience researching hurricanes such as Rita, Katrina and Ike, and can speak as experts about various aspects of these devastating storms.
The National Wind Institute (NWI), as it is now known, combines the former Wind Science and Engineering (WiSE) research center, which created the first doctorate in wind science and engineering, with the Texas Wind Energy Institute (TWEI), creator of the only Bachelor of Science degree in wind energy. NWI strengthens the university’s interdisciplinary approach to all things wind.
John Schroeder, professor of atmospheric sciences and director of NWI, visited effected areas after both hurricanes Rita and Katrina to deploy instrumented towers that gather high-resolution storm data at a time when most conventional observation systems fail. Schroeder can offer insight into how hurricanes develop, move and react to various meteorological elements. He is an expert on hurricane winds and has been actively intercepting hurricanes since 1998.
Schroeder can be reached at (806) 834-5678 or [email protected].
Daan Liang, assistant professor of construction engineering technology, investigated building damages caused by Hurricane Katrina using satellite images and aerial photos along with ground survey results. Liang has studied how the construction of buildings affects their vulnerability against severe windstorms with various probability models. Recently, his research is focused on the advancement of remote sensing technology in documenting and assessing wind damages to residential structures.
Liang can be reached at (806) 834-0383 or daan.lia[email protected].
Ernst Kiesling, research professor at NWI and executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA), recommends that homeowners who live above the flood plane in hurricane-prone areas buy a storm shelter for their home. As was seen in Houston preceding Hurricane Rita, evacuations are stressful and expensive. They often put immense strain on traffic corridors, leading to traffic jams and – in the case of Houston – fatalities. By utilizing in-home shelters, some families who are not required to evacuate can remain where they are and ease the traffic flow. However, Kiesling urges buyers to look for a seal of the NSSA when they buy a safe room for their home, because not all shelters are verified to be fully compliant with current standards for storm shelters and to provide full protection from extreme winds. Kiesling has more than 35 years of experience in the design, standards-writing and quality control of storm shelters.
Kiessling can be reached at (806) 834-1931 or [email protected].
Larry Tanner, research associate in civil engineering, completed a six-month investigation working with the FEMA mitigation assessment team on the wind damage to residential structures from Hurricane Ike in Texas and Louisiana. He was also a member of the FEMA mitigation assessment team that studied Hurricane Katrina. He led a team that recorded wind and water damage along the coastline in Louisiana and Mississippi. Much of the damage done by Katrina, he said, resulted from structures being built below the base flood elevation – or the elevation that flood waters will rise to during a 100-year storm event (meaning the storm only has a 1 percent chance of happening in a year).
Tanner can be reached at (806) 834-2320 or [email protected].
Bradley Ewing, professor of operations management in the Rawls College of Business, has studied the economic impact of hurricanes and tornadoes. He can speak to the impact of hurricanes and tornadoes in cities like Oklahoma City; Corpus Christi; Wilmington, N.C.; Miami; and Nashville, Tenn.
Ewing can be reached at (806) 834-3939 or [email protected].