Newswise — Several tornadoes tore through New Orleans and the surrounding area Tuesday (Feb. 7), leaving a path of destruction in its wake. In Mississippi, storms have produced gusty winds and hail.
Texas Tech University is home to the National Wind Institute (NWI), which leads the nation in wind research. The department was created after an F5 tornado killed 26 people and destroyed portions of downtown Lubbock in 1970. Faculty representing the university’s civil engineering department and atmospheric sciences group collaborated on solutions for what could be done to minimize the effects of severe wind events such as tornadoes and hurricanes on lives and structures.
NWI faculty members participated in a two-month research project last spring to study tornadoes in the Southeastern United States. Sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and organized by the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the Verification of the Origin of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment-Southeast (VORTEX-SE) project was intended to study how the landscape and near-storm environment of Mississippi and Tennessee contribute to tornado development. They will continue the research this year with VORTEX 2-SE.
NWI 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’s degree in wind energy. NWI strengthens the university’s interdisciplinary approach to all things wind.
Through NWI, scientists and engineers have collected one of the country’s largest repositories of wind data and helped develop the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale, implemented in 2007 by the National Weather Service.
Christopher Weiss, associate professor of atmospheric science, has researched the genesis and low-level wind structure of tornadoes for more than a decade. He also maintains a research interest in the processes responsible for the generation of the parent thunderstorms. He can speak to the current scientific understanding regarding why tornadoes form and intensify as well as how the structure of the tornado relates to the observed damage seen on the ground. He can be reached at (806) 834-4712 or [email protected]
Ernst Kiesling, research professor, executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association and executive director of the NWI Debris Impact Facility, can discuss the construction and use of residential and community shelters. Kiesling has more than 35 years of experience in the field documenting storm damage, writing performance standards for safe rooms and verifying compliance of safe rooms with those standards. He can be reached at (806) 834-1931 or [email protected]
Larry Tanner, research assistant professor and manager of the NWI Debris Impact Facility, has years of field experience studying tornado damage and debris. Tanner’s research of approximately 400 manufactured homes damaged by a 2005 tornado that killed 22 people in Evansville, Indiana, prompted new standards for mobile home installation in the region. Tanner can be reached at (806) 834-2320 or [email protected]
Darryl James, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and WiSE associate, and his team spent more than a year and a half building a tornado simulator at Reese Center. The device, known as VorTECH, simulates tornadic winds in the mid-EF3 range or less, in an effort to understand how tornadoes do their damage. James can be reached at (806) 834-3386 or [email protected]
Daan Liang, associate professor of construction engineering technology at Texas Tech and interim director of NWI, has studied with various probability models of how the construction of buildings affects their vulnerability against severe windstorms. His research is focused on the advancement of remote sensing technology in documenting and assessing wind damage to residential structures. Liang can be reached at (806) 834-0383 or [email protected]
John Schroeder, professor of atmospheric sciences, brings extensive experience in wind flow characterization and atmospheric measurements, including directing Texas Tech’s hurricane research program and West Texas Mesonet. Schroeder can be reached at (806) 834-5678 or [email protected]
Bradley Ewing, professor of operations management in the Rawls College of Business, has studied the economic impact of hurricanes and tornadoes for more than a decade. He can speak to the impact of hurricanes and tornadoes in cities like Oklahoma City, Corpus Christi, Wilmington, North Carolina, Miami and Nashville, Tennessee. Ewing can be reached at (806) 834-3939 or [email protected]