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Studies by Hazard Types

Blast and Impact Events

World Trade Center Terrorist Attack, New York, September 11, 2001
On August 21, 2002, with funding from the U.S. Congress through FEMA, the NIST announced its building and fire safety investigation of the World Trade Center (WTC) disaster that occured on September 11, 2001.

The study concluded that the tragic consequences of the September 11, 2001, attacks were directly attributable to the fact that terrorists flew large jet-fuel laden commercial airliners into the WTC towers.  NIST has compiled a list of recommendations to improve the safety of tall buildings, occupants, and emergency responders based on its investigation of the procedures and practices that were used for the WTC towers; these procedures and practices are commonly used in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings under normal conditions.

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Construction and In-Service Failures

Champlain Towers South Partial Building Collapse, 2021
On June 24, 2021,Champlain Towers South, a 12-floor condominium in Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed at approximately 1:30 a.m. EDT. The collapse happened suddenly and has resulted in mass casualties.

On June 25, NIST began deploying a team of six scientists and engineers to collect firsthand information on the collapse. Since then, NIST experts have been working with federal, state and local authorities to identify and preserve materials and information that might be helpful in understanding why the collapse occurred.

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Earthquake, Kocaeli, Turkey, 1999
The moment magnitude (M W) 7.4 Kocaeli, Turkey, earthquake struck the Kocaeli province of northwestern Turkey on Tuesday, August 17, 1999, at 3:02 a.m. local time. The cause of the earthquake was the sudden breakage, or rupture, of the Earth’s crust along a western branch of the 1,500-km-long North Anatolian fault system. The total length of the fault rupture was about 110 km. The region hit by the earthquake is the industrial heartland and the most densely populated section of Turkey. According to official Turkish government estimates, the earthquake caused 17,127 deaths and 43,953 injuries, and displaced more than 250,000 people. Approximately 214,000 residential units and 30,500 business units were lightly to heavily damaged.

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Wildland-Urban Interface Fires, Amarillo, Texas 2011
In February of 2011, wildland fires outside of Amarillo, Texas destroyed 70 homes, burned more than 25,000 acres of land, and caused nearly $6 million in property damage.  Thanks to a collaborative effort between NIST and the Texas Forest Service (TFS), these fires will soon be the most thoroughly investigated and scientifically evaluated events of their kind.  During a three-week reconnaissance, a NIST-developed data collection methodology was used to acquire approximately 163 gigabytes of data and more than 11,000 photographs to document two of the blazes, now known as the Willow Creek and Tanglewood Complex fires.  This massive amount of accumulated information will now become the foundation for a NIST-TFS study assessing the impact of the two wildfires on structures in the region. 

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Windstorms and Coastal Inundation

On September 20, 2017 at approximately 6:15 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time Hurricane Maria made landfall in southeast Puerto Rico near the town of Yabucoa .  Maria was listed as a strong Category 4 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 249 kilometers per hour (155 miles per hour). The storm tracked across the center of the island, from southeast to northwest, and produced up to 2.7 meters (8.9 feet) of storm surge. The hurricane also dumped greater than 25 centimeters (9.8 inches) of rain over much of the island, with even higher amounts (50-101 centimeters, or 20-40 inches) in some areas, causing hundreds of landslides across Puerto Rico. 
Tornado, Joplin, Missouri, 2011
The May 22, 2011, Joplin tornado, rated EF–5 on the Enhanced Fujita tornado intensity scale, caused 161 fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries, making it the deadliest single tornado on record in the U.S. since official records were begun in 1950. The damage to the built environment made this the costliest tornado on record as well, with losses approaching $3 billion. The Joplin tornado damaged 553 business structures and nearly 7,500 residential structures; over 3,000 of those residences were heavily damaged or completely destroyed

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Created July 6, 2016, Updated January 5, 2023