Research Report: Hurricane Wind Machine

Published: August 29 2007


The University of Florida’s new hurricane simulator will huff and puff and blow the house in, for research purposes only. UF civil engineer Forrest Masters says it can deliver winds up to 130 miles-an-hour, equal to a category three hurricane.

Masters: “This is the largest simulator that’s ever been built that’s mobile. So we’re able to take the equipment you see here and we can move it into the field to test real homes in communities that are affected by hurricanes.”

Powered by four marine diesel engines, eight fans deliver the wind while water jets simulate the most extreme rainfall of up to thirty-five inches per hour.

Masters: “There are several critical elements to this research program, the first of which is the ability to test systems holistically instead of looking at an individual part or component, we look at systems. We look at the walls, the roofs, the entire house as we load it with wind and wind-driven rain.”

Researchers are using the system to test vacant homes for hurricane readiness and to develop recommendations for new building standards.