Wind expert explains what hurricane winds do to buildings

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WILLISTON, VT – Hurricane Dorian moves through the Atlantic with record breaking winds. Just how strong does a hurricane have to be to tear apart buildings?

Jens Moeller-Madsen of SOH Wind Engineering said, “A roof of a typical residential…let’s say you have an 1,800 square feet roof, if you put down a category one hurricane the roof would need to hold down roughly three or four U.S size SUVs. If you put the same house through a category five hurricane it needs to hold down 13 cars.”

SOH Wind Engineering LLC studies the pressure of wind speeds on buildings around the world.

“We blow simulated wind fuel and we measure how big forces occur on these buildings and we translate them into something that structural engineers use in their design,” said Moeller-Madsen.

They use models to predict what would happen to buildings when a hurricane hits. They scale down the speed in a wind tunnel. The wind speed is low compared to a real hurricane, but they can mimic effects of an actual hurricane.

“If you double the wind speed you quadruple the force so double the wind speed is four times the force,” said Moeller-Madsen.

While there will never be a building able to survive anything, SOH Wind Engineering LLC he hopes their work can help answer questions as record breaking hurricanes like Dorian continue to occur.

“Are we doing the right thing? Are the wind speeds increasing over time? Do we really know the effect of a hurricane on a house? All those questions are constantly being asked and partially answered and they tend to be resurfaced and be requisitioned with major hurricanes,” said Moeller-Madsen.

 SOH Wind Engineering LLC hopes their testing will help buildings sustain winds in the future.

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