The American Association for Wind Engineering
We Exist To Mitigate Wind Damage Through Engineering
Severe winds of many types with associated water penetration and water impacts are responsible for the largest component of insured losses in the United States. Yet insured losses are only a part of the total physical loss. Hurricane losses can be large and examples are Hurricane Andrew which generated more than $36 billion in losses and Hurricane Katrina which generated more than $100 billion in losses. Although individual Tornado events may not reach these totals, there are numerous events each year that result in a cumulative loss of comparable magnitude.
Each year many thousands of homes and businesses are destroyed or rendered unusable.
During the period from 2003 to early 2008, there have been 10 damaging hurricanes that struck the U.S. and there have been more than 1000 tornadoes each year, many of them causing damage. In addition to physical and economic losses, many lives have been lost.
The reduction of losses and impacts is complex due to the existence of a large inventory of structures and infrastructure that were constructed before we understood how to construct them to provide acceptable resistance with a large reduction of potential losses.
For new construction the research carried out on wind loadings and resistance some years ago has provided a basis for reducing losses if applied. However, the level of research on wind engineering has fallen and many important areas of knowledge building to support loss reduction are not being pursued today. This is particularly true with respect to existing construction. The level of losses being sustained is not necessary and could be substantially reduced through increased support of wind engineering.
Unfortunately, the long-term recovery and economic impacts from wind storms are not uniform and those who least can afford to be impacted are also those who are at the lower end of the recovery cycle. Average yearly economic and life losses in the United States due to wind have far exceeded that from Earthquakes and only floods have the demonstrated potential to cause greater yearly losses.