Florida International University unveils the nation’s most powerful hurricane simulator, a “Wall of Wind’’ that can hit Category 5 wind speed and put building materials to the worst-case test.
Nearly 20 years after Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami-Dade County, FIU’s International Hurricane Research Center was created to test and improve building designs and materials that failed miserably under Andrew’s ferocious assault — everything from nails to roof shingles to roof-top air-conditioning units.
“The bottom line is the research we are doing here will not only save lives but also reduce property losses and therefore premiums,” said Shahid Hamid, director of the research center’s laboratory for insurance, economic and financial research.
During the test, it was clear that one thing that one positive thing Hurricane Andrew did for Florida was to enforce a change in the building codes that determined roofing materials and how they are installed.
To display the simulator’s power, an FIU crew built two mock-up structures, each about the size of a garden shed and painted the school’s signature blue and gold. One used pre-Andrew construction codes. The other was put together with stronger standards enacted after Andrew that demand stronger nails, thicker plywood sheathing, heavier roofing felt, thicker shingles and other changes.
This new simulator simply stresses the importance of hiring the best roofing contractor — one that has been training in the installation of the highest quality roofing materials for your Florida home.
Some excerpts by Curtis Morgan, Miami Herald