As tropical storm Isaac makes its way to New Orleans exactly seven years after hurricane Katrina swept through the city, you can bet that residents are wishing this technology was invented long ago.
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Researchers at Florida International University (FIU) have created a giant storm simulator that can recreate the destructive wind of a category five hurricane. This “Wall of Wind” can generate stiff breezes that reach 157 miles per hour.
The idea is that the researchers can use this technology to put current storm-resistant construction methods to the test.
Director of the research facility, Arindam Chowdhury, says, “We want to also learn the failure modes of the structures. How they fail, why they fail. From that knowledge you can come up with design methods or retrofits that you can do to building to make them stronger so that this kind of damage does not happen in future hurricanes. So the ultimate goal is to strengthen the buildings and the building codes so you can make a hurricane resilient community.”
Although Isaac isn’t nearly as powerful as Katrina or hurricane Andrew – which swept through South Florida 20 years ago – this technology could help save lives down the road once another powerful storm torments the region.