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Wind and Structures
  Volume 10, Number 3, May 2007, pages 287-300

Wind velocity field during thunderstorms
Jacinto Ponte Jr. and Jorge D. Riera

    Wind action is a factor of fundamental importance in the structural design of light or slender constructions. Codes for structural design usually assume that the incident mean wind velocity is parallel to the ground, which constitutes a valid simplification for frequent winds caused by meteorological phenomena such as Extratropical Storms (EPS) or Tropical Storms. Wind effects due to other phenomena, such as thunderstorms, and its combination with EPS winds in so-called squall lines, are simply neglected. In this paper a model that describes the three-dimensional wind velocity field originated from a downburst in a thunderstorm (TS) is proposed. The model is based on a semi empirical representation of an axially-symmetrical flow line pattern that describes a stationary field, modulated by a function that accounts for the evolution of the wind velocity with time. The model allows the generation of a spatially and temporally variable velocity field, which also includes a fluctuating component of the velocity. All parameters employed in the model are related to meteorological variables, which are susceptible of statistical assessment. A background wind is also considered, in order to account for the translational velocity of the thunderstorm, normally due to local wind conditions. When the translation of the TS is caused by an EPS, a squall line is produced, causing the highest wind velocities associated with TS events. The resulting vertical velocity profiles were also studied and compared with existing models, such as the profiles proposed by Vicroy, et al. (1992) and Wood and Kwok (1998). The present model predicts horizontal velocity profiles that depend on the distance to the storm center, effect not considered by previous models, although the various proposals are globally compatible. The model can be applied in any region of interest, once the relevant meteorological variables are known, to simulate the excitation due to TS winds in the design of transmission lines, long-span crossings, cable-stayed bridges, towers or similar structures
Key Words
    thunderstorms, winds, downdraft, downburst, vertical profile, flutuaction, extreme value.
Jacinto Ponte Jr.; UNISINOS, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Sao Leopoldo, RS, Brasil
Jorge D. Riera; PROMEC/PPGEC, EE, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, RS, Brasil, Av. Osvaldo Aranha 99, 3o. Andar, 90035-970, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

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