OU researchers studying hurricane as it hits Gulf Coast

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – As a hurricane was headed for the Gulf Coast, researchers at the University of Oklahoma were preparing to head into the path of the storm.

OU scientists deployed a Shared Mobile Atmospheric Research and Teaching weather radar device in Mobile, Alabama in advance of the landfall of Hurricane Sally.

Officials say they were measuring the structure of the winds in the hurricane boundary layer.

As of Wednesday, the team had conducted 24 hours of continuous observations.

“Never before have radar-derived total winds been collected for so many hours within the same portion of a hurricane,” said OU School of Meteorology professor Michael Biggerstaff. “Since stability of the boundary layer changes with solar heating and nocturnal cooling, this long data record will allow our group to study how changes in the ability of atmosphere to transport higher energy air from aloft to the surface changes the potential for damage from these severe windstorms.”

The project was funded by the National Institute for Standards and Technology to capture the vertical profile, duration and gustiness of extreme winds in an effort to improve building codes to mitigate damage to homes and commercial buildings.

“We want to help mitigate property damage by working with engineers and using our data to improve the building and construction codes needed to develop a more resilient national infrastructure in the future,” he said.

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