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Development and evaluation of a 360° differential pressure gust sensor for extreme weather environments

Cole, Andrew
Measuring rapidly fluctuating high wind speeds and direction in the extreme weather environments of severe storms proves to be a difficult task with current sensors. For example, mechanical anemometers do not provide sufficient response time to detect micro-gusts and ultrasonic anemometers are quickly obscured by rain and other particles. In addition, mostcurrent systems are susceptible to damage from hail and debris. This effort details the design, implementation, and testing of a 360° gust probe using differential pressure sensors. Similar in concept to a multi-hole probe, this cylindrical probe uses multiple inlets connected to differential pressure transducers whose differential readings can provide high-resolution wind magnitude and direction measurements. This design can be manufactured using different transducers to allow for different accuracy, range, and resolution to meet the requirements for a wide range of applications, in its current test configuration the sensor is able to measure wind speeds. The probe has no external moving parts and is equipped with a purge system to vent water and debris from the inlets. This along with its small size and rigid construction make it damage resistant, creating a system uniquely suited to capture data in severe conditions. This paper includes discussion of existing systems and their shortcomings, the details and results of design process for a new instrument for collecting wind data, and some initial testing done with the instrument. Sample data is provided with analysis and comparisons to data sets from existing validated systems.