In light of the destruction resulting from the devastating winds of Hurricane Isaac, it’s important to note the preparation that goes into storm battling even before a drop of rain falls.
Last month Florida International University’s International Hurricane Research Center introduced the nation’s most powerful hurricane simulator, which is the only of its kind capable of 160 mph testing. The $8 million facility was constructed in order to test and improve building designs and materials that failed during Hurricane Andrew, the only category 5 hurricane to reach the U.S. mainland. The facility contains a double-decked stack of a dozen electric fans, each six feet in diameter, also known as the “Wall of Wind.”
When it was time to test the simulator’s strength, two structures were built, each about the size of a garden shed. One used pre-Andrew construction codes and the other was put together with stronger standards enacted after Andrew, which included stronger nails. thicker sheathing, heavier roofing felt and thicker shingles. Then it was time to crank up the fans, which are a 8,400-horsepower system that get up to 160 mph at peak flow. The results of the test confirmed the strength of the new standards.
According to The Miami Herald, the system FIU unveiled this August is the third version of its Wall of Wind, improving on a two-fan system first constructed in 2005 and a six-fan system follow-up in 2007. The latest Wall of Wind should hopefully ensure that products billed as “hurricane resistant” truly perform that way during real world conditions.
Read the full article from The Miami Herald here and watch a video of the simulator in action.