Wind Research Experts Available to Discuss Rare November Tornado Threat

Powerful November storm system could bring tornadoes, damaging winds and large hail. The threat extends from southern Oklahoma all the way south to Junction.

Tornadoes are rare this time of year, therefore affected residents may be taken by surprise and unprepared. Texas Tech University’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (WISE) is developing new technologies and methods of warning and damage mitigation.

The combination of a potent upper level storm system and an abundance of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico interacting with dryline could produce severe weather this afternoon, National Weather Service forecasters predict. The threat extends from southern Oklahoma all the way south to Junction. In addition to possible tornadic activity, these storms could produce straight line winds in excess of 60 mph and hail larger than 2 inches in diameter.

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.
John Schroeder, associate professor of atmospheric sciences and director of WISE, 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) 742-2813 or john.schroeder@ttu.edu.
 
Christopher Weiss, associate professor of atmospheric science, has researched the genesis and low-level wind structure of tornadoes. 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 at the ground.  He can be reached at (806) 742-4712 or chris.weiss@ttu.edu.

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 (806) 742-3476 ext. 335 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. Tanner’s research of approximately 400 manufactured homes damaged by a 2005 tornado that killed 22 people in Evansville, Ind., prompted new standards for mobile home installation in the region. Tanner can be reached at (806) 742-3476 ext. 336 or larry.tanner@ttu.edu.

CONTACT: Carol Ann Stanley, unit manager, Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, (806)742-3479 or carolann.stanley@ttu.edu.