Researchers recall anniversary of deployment and changes made.
Tropical Storm Erika is making waves as it heads toward the Florida coast. Forecasters predict the relatively “disorganized storm” to make landfall Monday, possibly as a Category 1 hurricane. It was ten years ago today (Aug. 28) that Katrina became a Category 5 hurricane.
The Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team (TTUHRT) is dedicated to mitigating the effects of landfalling hurricanes on life and property. TTUHRT deployed a team of researchers to intercept Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Today another team is on standby, ready to travel to the region targeted by Erika. Upon arrival, the team would deploy 12 StickNet probes to gather storm data and provide status updates and pictures on Facebook and Twitter as time allows.
“The location may change over the course of a day or two,” Krupar said. “So we will have to pay close attention to model trends and satellite observations as they come in.”
The group also may be joined by Texas Tech alumnus Ian Giammanco, now an NWI adjunct research associate and research scientist at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety in South Carolina. Giammanco was field coordinator for the TTUHRT deployed to intercept Hurricane Katrina. For the Louisiana native, the experience quickly became personal as Katrina made landfall.
“In addition to coordinating our research efforts, I was also trying to make sure my family was alright,” Giamannco said. “The day before landfall, my aunt asked me if they'd have a house to come back to, and at the time my answer was ‘I don't think so.' But the storm's slight shift eastward made the difference.”
Since then, TTUHRT made improvements to its research technology. The StickNets replaced the WEMITE tower used to collect data during Katrina.
“The technology upgrade was contemplated previously, but Katrina underscored why it was necessary,” said John Schroeder, professor of atmospheric sciences and TTUHRT principal investigator. “We just needed more observations.”
Hurricane Katrina Image Gallery
NWI also has a number of additional 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
Schroeder can be reached at (806) 834-5678 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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 email@example.com.
Ernst Kiesling, research professor at NWI and executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association
(NSSA), recommends homeowners who live above the flood plain in hurricane-prone areas
buy a storm shelter for their home. As was seen in Houston preceding 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 an 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org