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Experts Available as 2013 Hurricane Season Begins

NOAA predicts very active season for Atlantic, below-normal in the Pacific.

Written by Karin Slyker

The first hurricane of 2013 has just made landfall along Mexico’s west coast near the nation’s largest oil refinery in Salina Cruz. Barbara is right on schedule, as the hurricane season for the eastern Pacific began May 15. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expects activity to be below-normal there, and in the central Pacific.

The Atlantic season, beginning June 1, will be the one to watch, according to NOAA. The forecast outlook includes 13-20 named storms, 7-11 hurricanes, of which 3-6 may be classified as major. The seasonal outlook does not predict how many storms will hit land.

The Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team is dedicated to mitigating the effects of landfalling hurricanes on life and property. The group includes faculty and students ready to brave the storm and deploy StickNet probes to gather data.

Texas Tech also 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.

John Schroeder, professor of atmospheric sciences and director of the National Wind Institute, visited affected 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 john.schroeder@ttu.edu.

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) 742-3538 or daan.liang@ttu.edu.

Ernst Kiesling, professor of civil engineering and executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association, 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 National Storm Shelter Association 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. He can be reached at (806) 834-1931 or ernst.kiesling@ttu.edu.

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 larry.tanner@ttu.edu.

Bradley Ewing, professor of operations management in the Rawls College of Business, has studied the economic impact of hurricanes and tornadoes for more than 12 years. 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 bradley.ewing@ttu.edu.

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Brad Ewing

Brad Ewing is a professor in the Area of Information Systems & Quantitative Sciences in the Rawls College of Business.

View his profile in our online Experts Guide.

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Daan Liang

Daan Liang is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering.

View his profile in our online Experts Guide.

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Ernst Kiesling

Ernst Kiesling is executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association and a research professor in the National Wind Institute (NWI).

View his profile online .

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John Schroeder

John Schroeder is a professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Geosciences in the College of Arts and Sciences and is director of the National Wind Institute.

View his profile in our online Experts Guide.

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Larry Tanner

Larry Tanner is a research associate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering.

View his profile in our online Experts Guide.