Wind Flow Characteristics of Landfalling Hurricanes Observed by Texas Tech University StickNets
Recent hurricanes have shown the continuous need for improvement of our understanding of land-falling tropical storms in the United States. Historically, controversy has emerged at times between scientific communities; specifically, after Hurricane Andrew there were substantial differences in the interpretation of the maximum wind speeds by engineers and meteorologists. To combat these differences, previous studies implemented a standardization technique that mitigates measuring height and surrounding exposure differences at measurement sites. This technique enables the comparison and integration of disparate mean wind measurements taken at different sites. However, even with implementation of the best techniques, the amount of information available following storms has often been minimal leading to uncertainty in the interpretation of the wind flow characteristics of a hurricane. Since 2008, Texas Tech University Hurricane Research Team has been deploying a fleet of meteorological measurement stations, StickNets, to measure the impact of land-falling hurricanes. The program currently includes 48 fully operational, rapidly deployable measurement stations. In this study, the historical information from nine land-falling hurricanes, as acquired by the StickNet fleet, is compiled into the largest database of its kind. In addition to wind speed, over 29 different wind flow parameters are calculated and included in the database. These include turbulence intensity, gust factor and integral scale which nominally play a role in engineering design through inclusion in building codes and standards. Given the interpretation is sensitive to the determination of roughness length, two techniques were employed to estimate the parameter, standardize the mean wind speed, and stratify the wind flow characteristics for further interpretation. The database of wind flow characteristics was then queried, stratified, and examined to determine the influence of secondary parameters such as increasing mean wind speed and storm relative position. Finally, given different anemometers have been employed for the StickNet fleet since its inception, differences in the parameter space were also investigated by instrument type. The results largely follow previous literature with some notable differences.