The flight of wind borne debris / an experimental, analytical and numerical investigation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Civil Engineering


The storms that occurred in late March 2004 (with a relatively short return period of one or two years) clearly illustrate the vulnerability of urban areas to wind induced damaged. In various urban conurbations numerous trees and advertising hoardings failed, causing widespread disruption to the UK rail and road network. The wind borne debris present in these storms, due to both the failure of large items of street furniture/trees and unsecured items on the ground being lifted into the air, caused serious damage and destruction. For example, one person was killed as a result of wind-borne debris in Leicester and two died as a direct result of being hit by parts of a tree in Blundeston, near Lowestoft in Suffolk (BBC, 2004b). Unfortunately these events are not uncommon. For example as a result of the earlier storms of October 2000, with roughly the same return period, several people died and two were seriously injured. In the recent Birmingham Tornado much of the damage to buildings, and many of the injuries to people, occurred because of flying debris. Even in minor wind storms wind-borne debris can be a significant problem.This project aims to undertake a series of measurements on instrumented items of debris as they fly through the air. The data obtained from these tests will be used to improve and develop numerical models which will be of use to designers.
Description a) Experimental results for the pressure field around stationary, autorotating and flying flat plates

b) Computational results for the pressure field around stationary, autorotating and flying flat plates

c) Deeper understanding of the flow around wind borne debris

d) Development of models of debris flight
Exploitation Route The findings from the project are now being taken forward in a variety of code committees in the UK and around the world, and will, over the next decade, inform the development of new codification procedures.
Sectors Construction,Environment

Description The findings from the project - detailed information on debris flight in high winds - have been published and that information is now being used in the development of codes of practice for structural design around the world. In future, it can be expected that debris impact will form section of most structural design codes, and the work of this project will be used, along with those of a number of other international investigators, in drafting that guidance
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Construction
Impact Types Societal,Economic