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National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program


NIST is designated by Congress as one of four agencies comprising the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program[1] or NWIRP (other agencies are FEMA, NOAA, and NSF), with OSTP as the lead agency. Pending legislation in the U.S. House (H.R.1786) would move the lead agency function to NIST. This project provides leadership of windstorm and coastal inundation impact reduction R&D activities within the Engineering Laboratory. It also supports interagency coordination and reporting activities, as well as planning activities associated with potentially being designated the NWIRP lead agency.


[1] Created by the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act of 2004, PL 108-360.



Objective: Lead NIST’s National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program research and development (R&D) to improve model codes, standards, design guidance, and practices for the construction and retrofit of buildings, structures, and lifelines.

What is the new technical idea?  Improve safety and resilience of buildings, structures and lifelines by:

  1. supporting the development of instrumentation, data processing, archival capabilities, and standards for the instrumentation and its deployment, to measure wind, wind loading, and other properties of severe wind and structural response;
  2. coordinating with other appropriate Federal agencies to make the collected data available to researchers, standards and code developers, and local authorities;
  3. supporting the development of tools and methods for the collection of data on the loss of and damage to structures, and data on surviving structures after severe windstorm events;
  4. improving knowledge of the impact of severe wind on buildings, structures, lifelines, and communities;
  5. developing cost-effective windstorm impact reduction tools, methods, and technologies;
  6. working, in conjunction with other appropriate Federal agencies, to support the development of wind standards and model codes;
  7. working closely with key stakeholders to promote better building practices, in conjunction with other appropriate Federal agencies; and
  8. coordinating with the NIST Director of Disaster and Failure Studies Program within the Engineering Laboratory and with the other NWIRP agencies and stakeholders to respond to disaster and failure events following windstorms, including:
    1. staffing of study teams;
    2. field data collection studies;
    3. creating and maintaining a database repository related to windstorms;
    4. the performance of the built environment during windstorm events;
    5. associated emergency response and evacuation procedures;
    6. pre-disaster mitigation studies specific to windstorms; and
    7. developing, in consultation with the EL Director of Disaster and Failure Studies, the protocols for coordination of NWIRP and other federal agencies’ and stakeholders' participation in disaster and failure event studies following windstorms.

What is the research plan? 

  1. NWIRP Statutory Responsibilities and Leadership of NIST NWIRP R&D:
    1. complete required NWIRP biennial reports to Congress, in collaboration with the other NWIRP agencies (OSTP, FEMA,  NSF,  NOAA);
    2. represent NIST on the Windstorm Working Group of the Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction (within the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability of the National Science and Technology Council);
    3. complete the Measurement Science Research Roadmap for Windstorm and Coastal  Inundation Impact Reduction – with support from the Applied Technology Council (ATC) NEHRP Task Order contract #26;
    4. align NIST windstorm and coastal inundation impact reduction research with consideration of the recommendations made in the research roadmap (item c), through development of the Wind Engineering and Multi-Hazard Failure Analysis and NWIRP project plans;
    5. coordinate NIST R&D efforts with other federal agencies and the broader R&D community and profession, through development of working groups addressing technical areas such as design for tornadoes, computational wind engineering, and performance-based design for wind hazards;
    6. lead the National Construction Safety Team to completion of its objectives and final report on the technical investigation of the May 22, 2011 Joplin Missouri Tornado; and
    7. lead efforts to implement recommendations resulting from the Joplin Tornado investigation.
  1. Technical Activities:
    1. Wind tunnel experiments for validation of computational wind engineering methods: Experiments to capture data on turbulence characteristics of the approach flow and wind pressures on low-rise building models will be designed and conducted in collaboration with EL’s Wind Engineering and Multi-Hazard Failure Analysis project, to provide data for validation of the adaptation of the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) to wind engineering applications; and
    2. Performance-based design (PBD) for wind hazards: Using review and analysis of PBD literature and input from industry’s leading practitioners and academics, develop a framework for PBD for wind loads identifying performance levels, evaluation tools, and acceptance criteria.

Major Accomplishments:


  • Draft Report for Public Comment on the Joplin Tornado Investigation (Anticipated completion in FY13 Q4)
  • Measurement Science R&D Roadmap for Windstorm and Coastal Inundation Impact Reduction  (Anticipated completion in FY13 Q4)

Start Date:

November 3, 2011

Lead Organizational Unit:



Project Leader: Dr. Marc Levitan


General Information:
Dr. Marc Levitan, Project Leader
301-975-5340 Telephone

100 Bureau Drive, M/S 8611
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8611