The Power Of Wind

CBS DFW - Videographer and storm chaser Jake Shannon and I traveled to Lubbock Texas to visit with the professors and doctoral students at the world-renowned WISE program at Texas Tech University.

Videographer and storm chaser Jake Shannon and I traveled to Lubbock Texas to visit with the professors and doctoral students at the world-renowned WISE program at Texas Tech University. We traveled I-20 to Sweetwater and then headed north on 87 up into the panhandle. It is an amazing drive if you are going to do a story about the wind: wind mill farms dominate the landscape on both sides of the interstate. The spacing of these wind mills is a study in fluid dynamics, yet another working project at WISE (Wind Science and Engineering).

One of the star attractions at WISE is the VORTECH tornado simulator, thought to be the largest one on earth and the brain child of Dr. Darryl James. It is on the old Reese Air Force Base (I was born in the hospital there so literally the wind carried me back home). They finished the project just last year and have started a series of new research avenues. We saw small-scale houses smaller than shoe boxes packed with air pressure sensors (tiny hollow plastic tubes with a transmitter on the end, there are almost a hundred packed inside these small scale boxes). The size of the model house is in direct proportion to the winds created by the vortex; though the actually winds are closer to 35mph to the scale the represent about 200mph winds. The researchers at WISE record the hundreds of sensor points to determine what parts of the structure receive the greatest wind load.

Read the rest of the story at CBS DFW