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New Roadmap Outlines Research Path to Reduce Storm Impacts

From NIST Tech Beat: March 26, 2014

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Contact: Michael E. Newman



The animation shows how a storm surge is created by hurricane-strength winds. A new "roadmap" report announced by NIST identifies research areas that need to be addressed to reduce impacts from windstorms and coastal inundations, such as those caused by surges.

Credit: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research's COMET Program

A new measurement science research and development (R&D) roadmap,* prepared for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) over the past two years by a private-sector group of hazard mitigation experts, provides a broad strategic approach and R&D objectives to reduce impacts from windstorms and coastal inundations (including storm surge during hurricanes and tsunamis).

The impetus for the project was the extensive property losses and casualties that have occurred during the last several decades as a result of powerful hurricanes such as Katrina in August 2005,** and severe tornadoes such as the massive storm that struck Joplin, Mo., in May 2011.*** Windstorms, storm surges and other coastal inundation events were responsible for approximately $250 billion in property losses and more than 4,000 fatalities during the period 1996-2012.

Recognizing that losses from these hazards have been dramatically increasing over time, NIST requested that the Applied Technology Council, an organization devoted to advancing engineering applications for hazard mitigation, develop a roadmap to identify high-priority national needs for improved standards, codes and practices. Input for the roadmap was obtained from two NIST workshops

The roadmap includes:

  • a vision for communities resilient to these hazards;
  • a list of grand challenges facing those working toward reducing impacts (such as designing 'smart' buildings with wind performance monitoring systems built into the structural system and developing computer models that incorporate changing and future conditions when predicting storm surge and tsunami risks);
  • descriptions of 30 priority R&D topics that must be addressed in the effort (such as performance levels and acceptable design criteria for wind hazards, and methods for testing the ability of materials and systems to resist the impacts of flooding); and
  • a proposed program of prioritized R&D activities and their associated benefits.

The development of the roadmap was supported by NIST and the National Science Foundation.

*NEHRP Consultants Joint Venture Measurement Science R&D Roadmap for Windstorm and Coastal Inundation Impact Reduction (NIST Grant Contractor Report 14-973-13), 2014. Available online at www.nist.gov/manuscript-publication-search.cfm?pub_id=915541.
**See "NIST Reports Stricter Adherence to Standards and Codes, Recognition of Storm
Surge as Keys to Minimizing Structural Damage from Hurricanes"
at www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/hurricane_report060906.cfm.
***See "NIST Investigation of Joplin, Mo., Tornado Details Proposed Measures for Saving Lives and Property" at http://www.nist.gov/el/disasterstudies/joplin-112113.cfm.