Water tanks may serve a wide range of uses here at Tuffa, also coming in many different forms, but even an appreciation of the finer points of our range for the domestic, agricultural or commercial customer may not quite prepare you for the sight of one particular water tank across the Atlantic. We are referring to one that is no less than 75 feet (23 metres) long, and which stands 6.5 feet (2 metre) high, although its dimensions are not its most impressive aspect.
Nor is the fact that it is capable of holding a staggering 38,000 gallons of seawater. Instead, it’s this particular water tank’s ability to create winds as fast as 157mph that really awes, thanks to its 1,700-horsepower fan that helps to simulate what it’s like when a hurricane hits land. This immense contraption can be found at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami, where researchers seek to determine what leads a hurricane to become truly catastrophic.
The lab where the tank is situated is called the Surge-Structure-Atmosphere Interaction, or SUSTAIN, where with the mere flip of a switch, tropical storm conditions can be generated by the giant fan whipping up waves in the water tank. Made from clear acrylic, this tank is overlooked by satellite sensors mounted on the lab’s high ceilings, director Brian Haus pointing out that they play a great role in the fine-tuning of satellites that watch genuine storms.
A Daily Mail article quoted Haus as saying: “The satellites, even though they see a really big area, they tend to be sensitive to really small things on the surface. We don’t really know, when you get into extreme conditions, what the satellite is seeing – whether there’s a spot reflecting off sea spray or bubbles or short waves.”
As if any more evidence was needed of the astonishing robustness and stability of this mammoth water tank, a recent test run saw Haus stand atop the tank, calmly watching the racing, sea-green waves beneath his feet. He has also observed the tank’s contents from underneath and along its sides. Researchers at the lab study the interaction between hurricane-force winds and spray coming off the seawater’s surface to try to improve satellites’, drones’ and ocean buoys’ real-time observations of tropical storms.
That something as seemingly humble as a water tank can play such an incredible role might astonish many people – although perhaps not those who are used to the extremely high practical, durable and long-lasting water tanks developed and manufactured by ourselves here at Tuffa!