Computational fluid dynamics, Hurricanes, Structural engineering


Widespread structural damage to critical facilities such as levees, buildings, dams and bridges during hurricanes has exemplified the need to consider multiple hazards associated with hurricanes as well as the potential for unacceptable levels of performance even if failure is not observed. These inadequate standards warrant the use of more accurate methods to describe the anticipated structural response, and damage for extreme events often termed performance based engineering (PBE). Therefore PBE was extended into the field of hurricane engineering in this study. Application of performance-based principles involves collection of the numerous hazards data from sources such as historical records, laboratory experiments or stochastic simulations. However, the hazards associated with a hurricane typically include spatial and temporal variation therefore, more detailed collection of data from each hazard of this loading spectrum is required. At the same time, computational power and computer-aided design have advanced and potentially allows for collection of the structure-specific hazard data. This novel technique, known as computational fluid dynamics (CFD), was applied to the wind and wave hazards associated with hurricanes to accurately quantify the spectrum of dynamic loads in this study. Numerical simulation results are presented on verification of this technique with laboratory experimental studies and further application to a typical Florida building and bridge prototype. Both the time and frequency domain content of random process signals were analyzed and compared through basic properties including the spectral density, autocorrelation, and mean. Following quantification of the dynamic loads on each structure, a detailed structural iv FEM was constructed of each structure and response curves were created for various levels of hurricane categories. Results show that both the time and frequency content of the dynamic signal could be accurately captured through CFD simulations in a much more cost effective manner than laboratory experimentation. Structural FEM models showed the poor performance of two coastal structures designed using deterministic principles, as serviceability and strength limit states were exceeded. Additionally, the response curves created for the prototype structure could be further developed for multiple wind directions and wave periods. Thus CFD is a viable option to wind and wave laboratory studies and a key tool for the development of PBE in the field of hurricane engineering.


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Graduation Date





Mackie, Kevin


Master of Science in Civil Engineering (M.S.C.E.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering








Release Date

December 2010

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic

Included in

Engineering Commons