Wind Research Experts Available to Discuss Deadly Joplin Tornado

This destruction is the reason Texas Tech University’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (WISE) is developing new technologies and methods of warning and damage mitigation.

Dozens are dead and even more injured after tornadoes tore through Joplin, Mo., and parts of the Midwest on Sunday. Experts say the Joplin tornado is already the deadliest since 1953, and could break into the top ten list of worst storms if the death toll continues to rise.

This destruction is the reason Texas Tech University’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (WISE) is developing new technologies and methods of warning and damage mitigation.

Texas Tech is the only university in the country to offer a Wind Science and Engineering doctorate program. This multidisciplinary degree encompasses several different types of study including atmospheric science, wind engineering, economics, statistics, leadership/ethics and wind power systems.

Through WISE, scientists and engineers have collected one of the country’s largest repositories of wind data and helped develop the Enhanced Fujita Scale, implemented in 2007 by the National Weather Service.

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) 742-3563 or darryl.james@ttu.edu. And watch VorTECH at work at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_yLLAus75o.

Ernst Kiesling, professor of civil engineering and executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association, can speak on 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 (877) 700-6772 or ernst.kiesling@ttu.edu.

Daan Liang, assistant professor of construction engineering technology at Texas Tech, has studied with various probability models how the construction of buildings affects their vulnerability against severe windstorms. 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.

Larry Tanner, research associate in civil engineering, has years of field experience studying tornado damage and debris. He can speak about Texas Tech’s wind cannon, which simulates debris thrown by some of the biggest tornados. He can be reached at (806) 543-4957 or larry.tanner@ttu.edu. For a demonstration of the tornado cannon, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlvpCTjMOAo.