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NIST’s Authority

The National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act

With the enactment of the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2015, on September 30, 2015, NIST has been designated as the Lead Agency for the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP). Other designated Program agencies are the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has also participated in NWIRP from its inception with PL 108-360 in 2004. Other federal agencies are invited to participate in NWIRP activities; among those already involved are the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Department of Energy (DoE), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) . Summaries of past NWIRP activities are available in the Program’s biennial reports to Congress.

NWIRP was established by Congress “…to achieve major measurable reductions in the losses of life and property from windstorms through a coordinated Federal effort, in cooperation with other levels of government, academia, and the private sector, aimed at improving the understanding of windstorms and their impacts and developing and encouraging the implementation of cost-effective mitigation measures to reduce those impacts.”

As the lead agency of NWIRP, NIST has the primary responsibility for planning and coordinating the Program. This responsibility includes: 

  • Ensuring that the Program includes the necessary components to promote the implementation of windstorm risk reduction measures; 
  • Supporting the development of performance-based engineering tools, and working with appropriate groups to promote the commercial application of such tools;
  • Requesting the assistance of Federal agencies other than the Program agencies, as necessary;
  • Coordinating all Federal post-windstorm investigations to the extent practicable; and
  • When warranted by research or investigative findings, issuing recommendations to assist in informing the development of model codes, and providing information to Congress on the use of such recommendations.

Basis of the NWIRP Investigation

Hurricane Ian represented a unique opportunity to collect perishable data on surge, wind, and wind-driven rain damage to buildings and infrastructure, as well as the methods and effectiveness of emergency communications. This event had the following features that warranted NIST to deploy a preliminary reconnaissance team in October of 2022: 

  • Extreme winds experienced over the landfall area, including peak gusts in excess of 53 m/s (120 mph); 

  • Extensive damage to utilities, transportation, and buildings caused by storm surge, wind and wind-driven rain; and  

  • Evacuation challenges associated with a changing forecast up to the point of landfall. 

  • This research study will result in guidance and recommendations for improved codes, standards, and practices, in order to strengthen buildings and infrastructure​ and improve resilience of communities​ in hurricane-prone area​s​, save lives, and protect property in future storms. 

Created February 6, 2024, Updated April 11, 2024