Hurricane Support Services
Our team of engineers, industrial hygienists and health consultants offers a select group of services to assist our clients in the event that a hurricane strikes our borders. We assist clients in storm surge analysis, wind engineering, meteorological analysis, catastrophe response, health effects analysis, and environmental assessment.
Exponent's Hurricane Support Services include:
Storm Surge Analysis
Exponent’s Water Resources team is experienced in performing assessments in coastal areas to evaluate the risks posed by storm surge. Storm surge is a phenomenon in which ocean water surface elevations rise as a result of high winds and decreases in atmospheric pressure during tropical storms and hurricanes. Storm surge can cause significant flooding in coastal communities. Lives and property located along the coastlines of hurricane-prone regions (e.g., the US Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard, islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean such as Hawaii and Guam) are at great risk during large storm events (including hurricanes) because of high water levels, which have the potential of inundating vast areas.
Exponent provides holistic wind engineering solutions to help our clients understand the wind hazard, the mechanisms and contributing cause(s) of wind damage, and the best measures to mitigate risk of future damage. We have helped owners of facilities in areas of high wind hazard quantify and mitigate their risks, and we have helped insurance carriers investigate the cause(s) and differentiate damage mechanisms after storms (including hundreds of structures after Hurricane Katrina).
Exponent has strong capabilities and deep experience in using state of the science numerical weather prediction and diagnostic meteorological models and meteorological data analysis. Numerical weather prediction models are prognostic and they can simulate the future evolution of atmospheric circulation systems at a range of scales.
Exponent performs retrospective analyses using high-resolution numerical models such as the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model and the Penn State/National Center for Atmospheric Research Fifth Generation Mesoscale model (MM5) with data assimilation techniques to reconstruct wind and precipitation patterns from hurricanes. Very often observational data is limited or non-existent, often making it difficult to represent the structure and evolution of important meteorological features of hurricanes. Numerical meteorological modeling can be used to develop a high spatial and temporal resolution analysis of meteorological fields during the storm event that can be used to perform storm damage assessments. Meteorological model output can be coupled with Computational Fluid Dynamics models to determine the pressure forces on building structures and thus assess if structural damage is due to a particular storm event.
Exponent’s engineers work with catastrophe adjusters to determine the nature and extent of damage, evaluate the contributions of perhaps several causal factors, and identify the most appropriate repairs. Our staff has repeatedly responded quickly to catastrophes, often on the first available plane to the affected region. Because we have offices across the country, our structural engineers and building technologists can meet the adjusters in the field, and our teams will remain as long as required. Our experience applying Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to disaster response can be of great value to insurance catastrophe managers, who require full information to manage the carrier’s response in an inherently chaotic situation.
Risks to Utilities
Hurricanes in the recent past, such as Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike, have done unprecedented damage to the nation's power infrastructure. Not only are underground lines at risk, but above ground transmission lines that feed power to the underground lines remain vulnerable during storm events. Exponent provides multi-disciplinary expertise and rapid response to assist electric utility clients with technical and managerial support services, often in extremely short time frames.
Health Effects Analysis
Exponent’s industrial hygienists and health consultants provide support related to health impacts from moisture and water intrusion, environmental mold, odors, and other related issues from furniture, consumer products; food and other materials.
Exponent’s environmental and water resource engineers evaluate issues related to water run-off, damage to existing estuaries, soil and groundwater contamination, and impacts on wildlife.