BACKGROUND: Built to withstand winds of more than 140 miles per hour, the new ıhurricane houseı at the University of Floridaıs Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center officially opened last spring, just days before the official start of the 2006 hurricane season.
SAFE HOUSE: One of four demonstration facilities located around the state of Florida, the hurricane house demonstrates that it is possible to build a home that will come through a category 4 or 5 hurricane with little or no damage. It also shows how existing homes can be made more hurricane resistant, using materials, products and construction methods that meet or are better than new state building codes. For instance, there are three different types of window shutters; impact-resistant doors; a steel ısafe roomı; and a garage door that can withstand winds of more than 150 MPH. Visitors can also see sections of interior walls exposed, revealing insulated concrete forms to build stronger and more energy efficient homes. The insulated concrete form uses reinforcement bars and concrete sandwiched between plastic foam sheets. Although this material is more expensive than regular concrete blocks or wood-frame construction, in coastal areas where corrosion and storm-surge problems are more prevalent, itıs worth the extra cost.
ABOUT HURRICANES: A hurricane is a type of tropical cyclone, a low-pressure system that usually forms in the tropics and has winds that circulate counterclockwise near the earth's surface. Storms are considered hurricanes when their wind speeds surpass 74 MPH. Every hurricane arises from the combination of warm water and moist warm air. Tropical thunderstorms drift out over warm ocean waters and encounter winds coming in from near the equator. Warm, moist air from the ocean surface rises rapidly, encounters cooler air, and condensed into water vapor to form storm clouds, releasing heat in the process. This heat causes the condensation process to continue, so that more and more warm moist air is drawn into the developing storm, creating a wind pattern that spirals around the relatively calm center, or eye, of the storm, much like water swirling down a drain. The winds keep circling and accelerating to form a classic cyclone pattern.
RATING HURRICANES: Hurricanes are categorized according to the strength of their winds according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale. They are rated from lowest wind speeds (Category 1) to highest (Category 5). But even lower category storms can cause a great deal of damage, mostly from storm surges ı when water is pushed towards the show by strong winds and combines with normal tides to create hurricane storm tides ı and the resulting flooding. The worst devastation from hurricane Katrina, for example, occurred when flooding caused the New Orleans levees to fail./p>
The American Society of Civil Engineers contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.