Research shows scale models effective for predicting storm damage to wood-frame buildings
A pair of scale model structures subjected to simulated storm conditions in an Oregon State University lab responded like real wood-frame homes during recent hurricanes, suggesting model buildings can yield important design information for low-lying areas vulnerable to storm surges and big waves.
“We wanted to establish a way to build scaled wood-frame specimens that would behave, and ultimately fail, under wave loading like their full-scale counterparts have been observed to,” said Sean Duncan, who led the study as a graduate research assistant with the Oregon State College of Engineering. “And we also set out to develop an equation that could predict the distribution of the uplift pressure on elevated structures. We were able to accomplish both of those goals.”
One of the model structures was elevated — built so that the living areas would be off the ground — and the other was “on grade,” or on the ground. As the researchers expected, the on-grade model couldn’t withstand water levels as high as the raised one, and both sustained damage in ways consistent with what was seen in real residential structures during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.
The research by Duncan, OSU colleagues Dan Cox, Andre Barbosa and Pedro Lomonaco and collaborators from the University of Hawaii and the University of California, Berkeley, also showed that a remote sensing method known as LiDAR could track the models’ damage progression as the waves and storm surges increased in intensity.