Wind Research Experts Available as 2011 Tornado Season Begins

As tornado season blows into the U.S., Texas Tech University’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center prepares for its 41st season of studying the destructive storms and developing new technologies and methods of warning and damage mitigation.

Home to some of the nation’s most prominent wind researchers, Texas Tech has experts available in many disciplines. Tornado season made a deadly entrance Feb. 27, when a severe weather event across the Midwest and South spawned several tornadoes, with one confirmed death in Franklin County, Tenn.

Through the collaborative Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, 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 the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center (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

Christopher Weiss, associate professor of atmospheric science, has researched the genesis and low-level wind structure of tornadoes for the past 13 years. 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

Kishor Mehta, former director of the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, helped lead a team that developed the new Enhanced Fujita Scale implemented by the National Weather Service in February 2007. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering for his studies of structural damage caused by windstorms and leadership in developing structural design standards for wind loads. He can be reached at (806) 742-3479 ext. 323 or

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

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

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

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) 742-3939 or