Wind Research Experts Available to Discuss Tornado Threat

NWS Storm Prediction Center issues rare “high-risk warning,” which means strong potential for large, violent, long-tracking tornadoes. The danger is particularly great Saturday afternoon into the evening hours.

An outbreak of storms that could result in large violent tornadoes is expected to develop across the nation’s midsection this weekend, in a band that stretches from Texas to Wisconsin. Forecasters say the danger is particularly great Saturday afternoon into the evening hours.

The risk is so great, that National Weather Service forecasters at the Storm Prediction Center have issued a rare high-risk outlook, with a strong potential for tornadoes that stay on the ground for a longer period of time.

This is only the second time in U.S. history that they have issued such a warning more than 24 hours in advance.

The first tornado appeared late Friday afternoon, in Norman, Okla.

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

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

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

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 And watch VorTECH at work at

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