Global Impact

The UF Hurricane Team Headed South to Meet Irma Head On

As Hurricane Irma prepared to make landfall in Southwest Florida, a team of researchers from the University of Florida’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, led by professor Dr. Forrest Masters, sped south to Naples to meet Irma head on.

The team deployed 3-ton instrumented towers at four different sites while the storm was making landfall. The purpose of this research is to measure 3D wind velocity at ground level with the goal of using the data gathered to improve our understanding of the behavior of winds that damage structures.

Masters is a professor in the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment and currently serves as associate dean for research and facilities in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering. 


Recently, he secured a multi-million dollar cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation’s Natural Hazard Engineering Research Infrastructure program to create one of seven national experimental facilities to study infrastructure performance in natural hazards. In short, Masters and his team are figuring out how storms impact cities and towns along our coasts…and they do this with the help of a new, advanced wind tunnel called the Terraformer. The Terraformer recreates the effects of the terrain on the wind field to study how buildings are loaded and ultimately will perform under wind action. According to Masters, all of this research is with an ultimate goal of making communities more resilient to extreme wind events.

While out in Irma’s wind, Masters was interviewed live on The Weather Channel about the impact of his research being done at UF. In addition to this, his research has appeared on CNN, Discovery Channel, National Geographic and PBS, among others.

To learn more about the Terraformer, click here.

To view more photos, click here.

UF News Author
October 3, 2017