Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Deploys Team to Intercept Tropical Storm Bill

Karin Slyker

June 16, 2015

Student-led team successfully deployed twelve StickNet probes.

Tropical Storm Bill made landfall Tuesday approximately 90 miles southwest of Houston. The National Hurricane Center said sustained winds were recorded at 60 mph. Heavy rain is expected to bring widespread flooding to a state already experiencing its wettest Spring in recorded history.

The Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team (TTUHRT) is dedicated to mitigating the effects of landfalling hurricanes on life and property. Three members of the team, led by doctoral student Rich Krupar, traveled to the area ahead of the storm, arriving after dark. Together, they worked through the night to successfully deploy twelve StickNet probes to gather storm data.

“Given the time constraint we were working under, with no sunlight to guide our way, we did an incredible job deploying along barrier islands and points inland,” Krupar said. “Every StickNet transmitted data in real-time leading up to and during landfall, demonstrating the capabilities of StickNet to collect meaningful near-surface observations.”

Read more about the team's deployment at the TTUHRT blog:
Tropical Storm Bill StickNet Deployment Summary.

And follow TTUHRT on Facebook and Twitter.

Twelve probes were deployed. This one shows Corpus Christi WSR-88D base reflectivity from just after landfall.
Courtesy: @TTUHRT

National Wind Institute Experts

Texas Tech's National Wind Institute (NWI) also has a number of researchers with extensive experience studying hurricanes such as Rita, Katrina and Ike, and can speak as experts about various aspects of these devastating storms.

John Schroeder, professor of atmospheric sciences, visited affected areas after both hurricanes Rita and Katrina to deploy instrumented towers that gather high-resolution storm data at a time when most conventional observation systems fail. Schroeder can offer insight into how hurricanes develop, move and react to various meteorological elements. He is an expert on hurricane winds and has been actively intercepting hurricanes since 1998.
Schroeder can be reached at (806) 834-5678 or john.schroeder@ttu.edu.

Daan Liang, assistant professor of construction engineering technology and interim director of NWI, used satellite images and aerial photos along with ground survey results to investigate building damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Liang used various probability models to study 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 damage to residential structures.
Liang can be reached at (806) 834-0383 or daan.liang@ttu.edu.

Ernst Kiesling, research professor at NWI and executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA), recommends homeowners who live above the flood plane in hurricane-prone areas buy a storm shelter for their home. As was seen in Houston preceding Hurricane Rita, evacuations are stressful and expensive. They often put immense strain on traffic corridors, leading to traffic jams and – in the case of Houston – fatalities. By using in-home shelters, some families who are not required to evacuate can remain where they are and ease the traffic flow. However, Kiesling urges buyers to look for a NSSA seal when they buy a safe room for their home, because not all shelters are verified to be fully compliant with current standards for storm shelters and provide full protection from extreme winds. Kiesling has more than 35 years of experience in the design, standards-writing and quality control of storm shelters.
Kiesling can be reached at (806) 834-1931 or ernst.kiesling@ttu.edu.

Larry Tanner, research associate in civil engineering, completed a six-month investigation working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency mitigation assessment team on the wind damage to residential structures from Hurricane Ike in Texas and Louisiana. He also was a member of the FEMA mitigation assessment team that studied Hurricane Katrina. He led a team that recorded wind and water damage along the coastline in Louisiana and Mississippi. Much of the damage done by Katrina, he said, resulted from structures being built below the base flood elevation, or the elevation flood waters will rise to during a 100-year storm event (meaning the storm only has a 1 percent chance of happening in a year).
Tanner can be reached at (806) 834-2320 or larry.tanner@ttu.edu.

Bradley Ewing, professor of operations management in the Rawls College of Business, has studied the economic impact of hurricanes and tornadoes. He can speak to the impact of hurricanes and tornadoes in cities like Oklahoma City; Corpus Christi; Wilmington, North Carolina; Miami, Florida; and Nashville, Tennessee.
Ewing can be reached at (806) 834-3939 or bradley.ewing@ttu.edu.