Less than 24 hours after tornadoes swept through communities across Missouri, Dr. Guirong (Grace) Yan was inspecting the damage in Jefferson City, one of the cities hit by Wednesday night’s tornado outbreak.

Yan, an assistant professor of structural engineering at Missouri S&T, and three of her Ph.D. students visited the state capitol to assess the damage as part of her research on tornadic wind pressure. Her work could lead to the creation of new models for tornado-resistant building design. Ultimately, she hopes her research will be used to strengthen building codes for municipalities.

“Most of the building codes we see now design a structure to withstand straight line winds,” Yan says. “We need to design structures to resist tornadoes.”

As director of the Wind Hazards Mitigation Laboratory (WHAM) at Missouri S&T, Yan will use the information she gathers from her assessment of the Jefferson City tornado to inform her computer modeling. She and her students plan to visit Jefferson City again today (Friday, May 24).

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