The University of Miami is investing in a $45-million Marine Technology & Life Sciences Seawater Complex, which will house a hurricane simulator, which will have three major components:
“The first is a 1400-horsepower fan originally suited for things like ventilating mine shafts. To create its 150mph winds, it will draw energy from the campus's emergency generator system, which is typically used during power outages caused by storms. The fan, sitting next to sensitive instrumentation, must have its vibrations isolated. "It's like your right hand is in a hurricane and your left hand is conducting retinal surgery," Sollogub says. The wind speeds are sensed through laser and sonic wind meters (otherwise known as anemometers).
The second part is a wave generator which pushes salt water using 12 different paddles. Those paddles, timed to move at different paces and rates, can create waves at various sizes, angles and frequency, creating anything from a calm, organized swell to sloppy chaotic seas. To reduce wave refraction, the end of the pool has a perforated, parabola-shaped beach to dissipate wave energy.
The third aspect of the tank is the tank itself, which is six meters in width by 20 meters in length by two meters high. It's made of three-inch thick clear acrylic so that the conditions inside can be observed from all sides. They've got to create ductwork for the air that creates "well behaved high velocity flow" so testing is accurate.”