Bracing For The Storm

May 28, 1998

CLEMSON, S.C. - Clemson University wind researchers question whether the Southeast, already battered by tornadoes, is ready for the looming hurricane season.

"It is important that new homes be built to withstand wind storms, but it is equally important that existing homes be retrofitted to increase their resistance to strong winds. This will not only help protect their home, but also those of their neighbor's that would be in the flight path of any wind-blown debris," said Ben Sill, of Clemson's Wind Load Test Facility which conducts research into making homes and other structures safer from the destructive forces of high wind.

"We need to break the cycle of thinking that says that tornadoes and hurricanes are acts of God and that nothing can be done," said Sill.

"In many cases, better design and construction could have saved houses or lives. The cost of upgrading the resistance of a home under construction or of an existing home is actually not very large," Sill said.

The Clemson facility is the only one in the nation able to give a complete picture of the effects of wind on "low-rise structures" like homes, schools and churches. That's because it tests not only the wind load on structures - i.e., how strong the wind is - but also the resistance of the building itself - i.e., how strong the building is.

Prior to the devastation of Hurricanes Andrew and Hugo, little wind engineering research was conducted on low-rise buildings. What was done generally focused on skyscrapers, long-span bridges and other special expensive structures.

Only in the last ten years have researchers turned their time and expertise to the so-called low-rise structures like homes and schools. Wind hazards like hurricanes and tornadoes result in a greater dollar loss than floods and earthquakes in the United States but receive only a fraction of the research funding. Wind accounts for $1,000 in loss for every $1 in research funding, while flooding accounts for only $70 in loss for every $1 spent and seismic activity accounts for $45 for every $1 spent, Sill said.

Sill, along with other Clemson researchers, was part of the team that made recommendations on construction practices in the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992. He was co-chairman of the American Society of Civil Engineers conference "Hugo: One Year Later."

Clemson University

Related Hurricanes Articles from Brightsurf:

Climate change causes landfalling hurricanes to stay stronger for longer
Climate change is causing hurricanes that make landfall to take more time to weaken, reports a study published 11th November 2020 in leading journal, Nature.

Hurricanes pack a bigger punch for Florida's west coast
Hurricanes, the United States' deadliest and most destructive weather disasters, are notoriously difficult to predict.

Hurricanes, heavy rains are critical for Hawai'i's groundwater supply
New research led by University of Hawai'i at Mānoa scientists indicates that rain brought to the islands by hurricanes and Kona storms can often be the most important precipitation for re-supplying groundwater in many regions of the island of O'ahu.

Texas A&M study: Marine heatwaves can strengthen hurricanes
Oceanographers have found that a hurricane can be considerably strengthened in the Gulf of Mexico through the compounding effects of two extreme weather events.

Hurricanes could be up to five times more likely in the Caribbean if tougher targets are missed
Global warming is dramatically increasing the risk of extreme hurricanes in the Caribbean, but meeting more ambitious climate change goals could up to halve the likelihood of such disasters in the region, according to new research.

Future Texas hurricanes: Fast like Ike or slow like Harvey?
Climate change will intensify winds that steer hurricanes north over Texas in the final 25 years of this century, increasing the odds for fast-moving storms like 2008's Ike compared to slow-movers like 2017's Harvey, according to new research.

Satellites have drastically changed how we forecast hurricanes
The powerful hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas on September 8, 1900, killing an estimated 8,000 people and destroying more than 3,600 buildings, took the coastal city by surprise.

Earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters obey same mathematical pattern
Researchers from the Centre for Mathematical Research (CRM) and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have mathematically described the frequency of several dangerous phenomena according to their size with more precision than ever.

Cold, dry planets could have a lot of hurricanes
Study overturns conventional wisdom that water is needed to create cyclones.

Climate simulations project wetter, windier hurricanes
New supercomputer simulations by climate scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have shown that climate change intensified the amount of rainfall in recent hurricanes such as Katrina, Irma, and Maria by 5 to 10 percent.

Read More: Hurricanes News and Hurricanes Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to