Texas Tech University

Research Experts Available to Discuss Deadly Tornado Outbreak

Karin Slyker

March 26, 2015

Texas Tech University is home to the National Wind Institute, which leads the nation in wind research.

Texas Tech University is home to the National Wind Institute, which leads the nation in wind research. The department was born 45 years ago after an F5 tornado killed 26 people and destroyed portions of downtown Lubbock. Faculty representing the university's civil engineering department and atmospheric sciences group collaborated on solutions what could be done to minimize the effects of severe wind events such as tornadoes and hurricanes on lives and structures.

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 of Science 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 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 chris.weiss@ttu.edu.

Ernst Kiesling, research professor, executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association, and executive director of NWI Debris Impact Facility, 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) 834-1931 or ernst.kiesling@ttu.edu.

Larry Tanner, research assistant professor and manager of 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 larry.tanner@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) 834-3386 or darryl.james@ttu.edu.

Daan Liang
, associate professor of construction engineering technology at Texas Tech and interim director of NWI, 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) 834-0383 or daan.liang@ttu.edu.

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 john.schroeder@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 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 bradley.ewing@ttu.edu.