Newswise — Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute (NWI) has been awarded a four-year research contract from Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a catastrophe risk modeling company, worth $1.46 million. The award is part of a larger project to quantify wind and storm surge damage following a hurricane for cases where the damage levels are catastrophic and there is minimal information remaining on which to base the claims.

This research contract will allow the NWI to continue and expand its work and research.

“This award covers four Atlantic hurricane seasons, from 2018 to 2021,” said John Schroeder, a professor in the Department of Geosciences and NWI affiliate. “This funding provides Texas Tech the ability to not only maintain and upgrade our current 24 measurement systems, but also double the fleet. So, in the future, we’ll be able to deploy 48 measurement systems into the field to measure a hurricane’s winds and their characteristics across the entire landfall region.”

NWI has a rich history in hurricane research, and that well-respected history, as well as its unique capabilities, helped win the research contract.

“Our history and experience in making deployments in landfalling hurricanes are large reasons why we were able to win this award,” said Brian Hirth, research professor at the NWI. “We’re about the only entity that does what we do, on the scale we do. Having all the experience to be able to deploy these platforms, understanding how to safely work in a hurricane landfall region with different teams in the field and adapting to changes last minute; all those little things are what we do best.”

Texas Tech’s meteorological observing station, known as “StickNet” because it resembles a stick figure, collects data that will be invaluable to RMS.

“The Texas Tech University StickNet program provides critical, real-time data that is not available from public domain weather services – services that often fail just as a hurricane makes landfall,” said Michael Young, vice president, product management of Risk Management Solutions. “RMS uses this exclusive dataset to power the RMS HWIND hurricane service, which is the world’s leading provider of tropical cyclone wind field data and is used by insurance and emergency response professionals worldwide.”

With the upgraded and expanded measurement systems, NWI will conduct research to better understand the variability of the low level wind field and help create a more accurate wind field of record, which will help insurance companies determine what percentage of damage to a structure was due to wind or due to storm surge. It also will help engineers design better structures by knowing more about how the wind might affect them.

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