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Texas Tech researchers awarded grant to investigate ways to help structures better withstand wind

National Wind Institute
By Amanda Bowman

The elements can be violent. From tornadoes to earthquakes and hurricanes, infrastructure around the world needs to endure either heavy rains, strong winds, fires or a combination of all three that come with naturally occurring storms.

To help improve disaster resilience during windstorms, the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded a $582,000 grant to Texas Tech University's John Schroeder, senior director of the National Wind Institute (NWI) and a professor of atmospheric science; Brian Hirth, research professor for the NWI; and Brian Ancell, an associate professor of atmospheric science.

The group will use the grant to deploy new 4D measurement and modeling techniques to advance understanding of windstorm characteristics and provide input and validation of numerical, experimental and empirical modeling efforts.

"This grant allows Texas Tech to remain at the forefront of advancing our understanding of the engineering-relevant aspects of significant windstorms leveraging the National Wind Institute's unique mobile and deployable research facilities and rich history of deploying instrumentation into landfalling hurricanes and severe thunderstorms," Hirth said. "The Ka-band mobile radars and StickNet tower platforms will be used in tandem to obtain targeted measurements of the near-surface winds within these events.

"Additionally, a state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction system will be used to model the same windstorms, which when merged with the collected radar and tower measurements, will provide a comprehensive documentation of the evolution of the structure of the wind in these significant events. The results of this project will inform current and future building codes and standards while developing a publicly accessible database of significant windstorm measurements and model output to fuel future research discovery."

Texas Tech's proposal was one of 12 chosen to be funded by NIST out of the 172 submitted.

"The National Wind Institute has long been a national leader in characterizing and modeling severe weather events," said Joseph Heppert, Texas Tech's vice president for research. "This new support from NIST will help add to our understanding of the behavior of severe weather and develop new strategies for mitigating damage from future storm activity."

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