Gator Engineering storm team measured wind as Sandy rolled ashore
University of Florida researchers measured wind and rain in the eye of Hurricane Sandy, as part of their continuing efforts to harden homes against storm damage.
UF’s hurricane research team on Monday brought a portable tower that takes those measurements to Somers Point, N.J., in advance of Sandy making landfall. The tower was hit directly by the wall of the storm’s eye, said Forrest Masters, associate professor of civil and coastal engineering.
The tower measured wind speeds of 50 mph at that location, he said, lower than reported elsewhere and far below the speeds it is designed to withstand.
“These experiments aren’t about finding the highest wind speeds in the storm,” Masters said. “We’re trying to characterize the fluctuating nature of wind in suburban terrain where damage is expected to occur.”
Masters, part of UF’s Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment, has conducted research in 25 named storms over about a dozen years. The research is used to develop ways to build and weatherize homes that resist storm damage.
Over four recent named storms — Ike, Irene, Isaac and Sandy — Masters has used improved sensors that work more accurately in high winds. Rain entering homes is a major issue in storms, he said, so such measurements are critical to his work.
“This type of damage can drive people from their homes for an extended period while repairs are completed,” he said.
Masters was working on another project in Arkansas when Sandy made landfall in New Jersey. He deployed a team to New Jersey that included a staff engineer along with two graduate students and an undergraduate student in engineering.
It’s important for his research to collect data from a number of storms, Masters said.
“We can’t learn everything we need to know in one storm,” he said. “We have to work every storm that makes landfall to get the data that we need.”
Originally published in The Gainesville Sun: http://www.gainesville.com/article/20121031/ARTICLES/121039883?tc=cr