Extreme wind speeds from multiple wind hazards excluding tropical cyclones

  • Lombardo, Franklin T. (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
  • Received : 2014.03.13
  • Accepted : 2014.08.04
  • Published : 2014.11.25


The estimation of wind speed values used in codes and standards is an integral part of the wind load evaluation process. In a number of codes and standards, wind speeds outside of tropical cyclone prone regions are estimated using a single probability distribution developed from observed wind speed data, with no distinction made between the types of causal wind hazard (e.g., thunderstorm). Non-tropical cyclone wind hazards (i.e., thunderstorm, non-thunderstorm) have been shown to possess different probability distributions and estimation of non-tropical cyclone wind speeds based on a single probability distribution has been shown to underestimate wind speeds. Current treatment of non-tropical cyclone wind hazards in worldwide codes and standards is touched upon in this work. Meteorological data is available at a considerable number of United States (U.S.) stations that have information on wind speed as well as the type of causal wind hazard. In this paper, probability distributions are fit to distinct storm types (i.e., thunderstorm and non-thunderstorm) and the results of these distributions are compared to fitting a single probability distribution to all data regardless of storm type (i.e., co-mingled). Distributions fitted to data separated by storm type and co-mingled data will also be compared to a derived (i.e., "mixed") probability distribution considering multiple storm types independently. This paper will analyze two extreme value distributions (e.g., Gumbel, generalized Pareto). It is shown that mixed probability distribution, on average, is a more conservative measure for extreme wind speed estimation. Using a mixed distribution is especially conservative in situations where a given wind speed value for either storm type has a similar probability of occurrence, and/or when a less frequent storm type produces the highest overall wind speeds. U.S. areas prone to multiple non-tropical cyclone wind hazards are identified.


extreme wind;thunderstorm;probability;multi-hazard;codes


Supported by : National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)


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