Tornadoes and hurricanes wreak havoc in various places across the U.S. every year. To help home builders and remodelers improve the ability of residential and commercial structures to withstand major wind and water events, scientists and engineers are conducting large-scale weather tests around the world.
At Florida International University, researchers have teamed with representatives from the insurance industry to construct the Wall of Wind, a 16-foot high structure containing 6 fans, each with its own high-powered motor. Currently, the Wall of Wind can produce winds of up to 130 miles per hour to batter test structures.
Students and professors at the University of Ontario's Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Lab having been working for two years on an apparatus that will simulate the pressure and suction effects that are part of major weather events. The National Research Council has also done extensive testing on seismic and wind loads on buildings. Some of the building structure systems as well as roofing and sidings products are now being labeled as wind tested due to the changes in our world climate.
The house testing program at the James Cook University Cyclone Testing Station in Australia conducts its research on eight full-scale structures. They also use wind tunnel testing to assess the strength of specific parts of the home.