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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

FIU Simulates 200 mph Hurricanes to Prepare for Extreme Weather

7/15/2022 (Permalink)

storm damage on home With the goal of saving more homes, these researchers hope to change the way that builders think about construction, materials, and more.

Floridians have seen some of the world’s most massive hurricanes over the years. And while the 2022 hurricane season has been rather quiet thus far, South Florida residents are always looking for ways to protect their homes in the event of a major storm. That’s why students at Florida International University (FIU) turned to the “Wall of Wind”, 12 gigantic fans that serve to simulate the strength of a major hurricane.

Located inside of an airplane hangar, this newly developed engineering lab will help to test the design and build of structures to eventually play a role in building stronger houses in Florida. The university’s Extreme Events Institute is excited to use this research in an attempt to address the inevitable impact of climate change.

According to the institute’s director, Richard Olson, “I want to be seeing research and testing in the 170-, 190-mph range. A lot of the research is at lower wind speeds, but I need to be changing to extreme wind speeds because that’s where nature is going. Who wants to be explaining in 20 years, ‘Ya—I knew this was coming but we didn’t do anything about it.’”

While critics would say that testing 200-mph wind speeds is a waste of time, these researchers know that this threat is real. For instance, Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas with 185 mph winds in 2019 and Hurricane Patricia brought 215 mph winds to Mexico in 2015. These hurricanes prove that this type of testing is necessary and important.

With the goal of saving more homes, these researchers hope to change the way that builders think about construction, materials, and more when it comes to building homes in South Florida. Storm damage has threatened the lives and homes of Floridians for many, many years, and these engineers at FIU may have unlocked a new method of thinking that will ultimately result in powerful change.

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