Numerical Simulation of Laboratory Tornado Simulator that Can Produce Translating Tornado-Like Wind Flow

Alternative Title

Numerical Simulation of Laboratory Tornado Simulator that can Produce Translating Tornadoes


Tornado simulators have been built to produce tornado-like vortices to investigate the characteristics of tornadic winds and their effects on civil structures. However, conducting testing in tornado simulators is expensive and time-consuming, and has limitations due to the small size of laboratory tornado simulators and the low wind speed that can be generated. To address these problems, this study is to develop an approach to numerically simulate a type of laboratory tornado simulator that can generate translating tornadoes. Different from previous numerical simulations of laboratory tornado simulators, in this study, all the major mechanical components in the tornado simulator are modeled, including the guide vanes, fan, and honeycomb section. Using the developed numerical tornado simulator, both stationary and translating tornadic wind fields will be produced. For each type of wind field, the characteristics of both the overall and near-ground wind flow will be extracted and investigated. The obtained wind flow will be compared with the data measured in the laboratory tornado simulator and the in situ radar-measured data. The numerical model developed in this study can be used to conduct more "testing" on the computer; and the simulating strategies verified here can be applied to simulate a larger-scale tornado simulator.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Second Department

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research


The authors greatly appreciate the financial support from National Science Foundation, the Hazard Mitigation and Structural Engineering program, through the project, "Damage and Instability Detection of Civil Large-scale Space Structures under Operational and Multi-hazard Environments" (Award No. 1455709).

Keywords and Phrases

CFD simulations; Tornado simulator; Translating tornado; Wind effects

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Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2019