An atmospheric vortex and its induced loading on a bluff body

F. T. Lombardo, A. Zaldivar de Alba, G. Chen, D. M. Rhee, J. B. Nevill, Z. B. Wienhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atmospheric vortices such as tornadoes are responsible for some of the most extreme winds on Earth and generate tremendous amounts of damage. Characteristics of atmospheric vortices and induced loading in bluff bodies remain largely unknown, presenting a challenge for safe infrastructure design. Experimental and computational studies have investigated loading from tornado-like vortices and design standards are beginning to address tornado loading, however full-scale validation is lacking. For the first time and unprecedented detail, we show the characteristics and the loading induced in a bluff body by an atmospheric vortex (i.e., dust devil). The analysis indicates that vortices load bluff bodies differently than winds in the atmospheric boundary layer and that current design practice may be insufficient to deal with vortex-induced loading. Moreover, it is shown that a feasible way of characterizing vortex phenomena and their effects on bluff bodies can be through dust devil capture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105605
JournalJournal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Dust devil
  • Full-scale
  • Loading
  • Vortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Mechanical Engineering


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