Texas Tech Hurricane Research Team anticipating damage from Hurricane Ian

The National Wind Institute is home to the Texas Tech Hurricane Research Team that has been following Hurricane Ian
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 5:47 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 28, 2022 at 6:56 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - All eyes are on Hurricane Ian as it has finally made landfall on the Florida coast.

The Texas Tech Hurricane Research Team has been watching the hurricane closely since the beginning.

Brian Hirth is a Research Professor for the National Wind Institute, which has been home to the Texas Tech Research Team for over 20 years.

Hirth said they noticed the beginnings of Hurricane Ian starting to develop in the Caribbean around a week ago. They thought Hurricane Ian was going to weaken after moving into the Gulf, but...

“As it crossed the tip of Cuba, western tip of Cuba, yesterday and moved into the Gulf, it continued to strengthen,” Hirth said. “It sort of reached the expected intensity yesterday, late in the day, around 120,125 miles an hour.”

Then overnight, the storm went into another rapid strengthening phase.

“And we woke up this morning to a storm that’s nearly a category five hurricane with winds of about 155 miles an hour right now,” Hirth said.

A storm of this magnitude means the damage will be driven by two factors, wind and storm surges.

“With a category four, strong, category four type of storm, homes that aren’t very well built or aren’t built to code, will be almost certainly damaged or maybe destroyed,” Hirth said.

Debris will come with the wind, too. Then the surges.

“Residents or structures in low-lying areas right along the coast, are going to almost certainly be heavily impacted by that or even wiped clean from their foundations,” Hirth said. “So it’s going to be a very significant storm.”

Hirth said Hurricane Ian’s strength is a unique event.

“This part of Florida has not seen a storm of this intensity in over a decade, maybe almost 20 years,” Hirth said.