We went to the University of Michigan to visit their wind tunnel. It's part of their Aerospace Engineering Department and they can simulate hurricane force winds.
Chris Chartier is the senior engineering technician in U of M's Aerospace Engineering Department. He taped a pennant to a pole that he fastened to the base of the wind tunnel and then he slowly increased the speed.
By watching it, you can quickly imagine what people in a hurricane's path would experience – especially anyone who hasn't gotten to what they think is a safe, sound structure.
“Eighty miles an hour is very difficult (to walk in), 90 probably lose your footing around 90,” Chartier says.
A category one hurricane starts with speeds of 74 miles an hour. A category 5 begins at 157.
Chartier says even in a simulator--the force is unexpected.
“When you get inside and you feel the forces inside, you are not expecting that,” he says. “Someone with a small frame would be able to stand up easier than myself because there are more forces.”
Those in the path of Irma are now preparing for what is said to be a potentially catastrophic hurricane.
One look inside Michigan’s wind tunnel you can only imagine.
For anyone interested in finding out about Michigan's Aerospace Engineering, you can register to visit them on December 2, 2017, for Aerospace Day. The events will include blimp and hovercraft races.