The Texas Tech Hurricane Research Team was established in 1998 with the goal of mitigating the effects of landfalling tropical cyclones on life and property through research and analysis. The project began with the development of several ruggedized instrument towers that could withstand the hurricane environment. The primary reason behind this data collection effort was that over 80% of conventional national weather service weather stations fail in wind speeds of 50 mph. So during a hurricane there are very little if at all, complete data records from the impacted area. Additionally, engineering interests require high resolution (fast sampling) data to determine wind loads produced by individual gusts on structures. So Texas Tech became the first university to build a tower platform that was self sustaining and deploy it in the path of a landfalling hurricane. Since the first season, TTU has deployed instrumentation for 28 landfalling tropical systems, including those such as Ivan, Katrina, Rita, and Ike. TTU collected the only complete wind speed record from Hurricane Katrina's Mississippi landfall. The program now uses the StickNet and Ka-radars to provide a detailed structure of hurricane winds at landfall. We are also part of a larger group called the Digital Hurricane Consortium (www.digitalhurricane.org) which includes universities, govt labs, and private groups that are interested in understanding hurricane winds at landfall. The program is under the oversight of the Applied Technology Council who works closely with FEMA.
Our official website is at: www.atmo.ttu.edu/TTUHRT and has much more information on the history of the project and past deployments.
The project principal investigator is Dr. John Schroeder (who built our very first tower as part of his PhD dissertation) he is also the new Director of the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center. The project was initially funded by NSF, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Idaho National Laboratory... recently we have received funding from State Farm Insurance, Risk Management Solutions, Applied Insurance Research (AIR-Worldwide) and recently received a grant from the Texas ARP program.