High intensity wind storms such as tornadoes and downbursts significantly impact the livelihood and the economy of Southern Ontario communities. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the 2005 tornado outbreak in Southern Ontario cost more than 500 million Canadian dollars in insured loss. During tornado or downburst events, the built-environment sustains severe damages from the strong vertical vortexes of tornadoes or the horizontal winds that move outward from a central location during a downburst. These wind events have complex interactions with building components that can cause cascading failures and result in flying wind-born debris. The state-of-the-art on the assessment of tornadic wind effects is limited to rating the intensity of tornadoes based on surveying the damage following the disaster and involves inferring the aerodynamics from straight wind flows that are not representative of tornadoes.

This project aims to develop a combined mechanics based and data-driven approach for high resolution numerical simulations of realistic tornado/downburst and building-cluster interactions for cities. Incorporating physics-based tornado and downburst data into structural models will improve the design of structures and allow them to withstand the most commonly observed tornadoes and downbursts. A method for estimating the damage from high intensity wind assisted by simulations of tornado/downburst interactions in user-selected urban regions will uncover the potential hazards cities are exposed to. Furthermore, the developed computational models enabled by SOSCIP’s blue gene super computer will ensure that Western University and the partner organization, RWDI Inc. (an Ontario based consulting firm focusing on the microclimate and science of buildings) will deliver optimal and innovative high intensity wind engineering solutions around the world.