Wind farms and Hurricanes.

They are proposing wind farms off of the Texas gulf coast. Given the intensity of some of the hurricanes, how would wind turbines hold up during a grade 5 hurricane?

I can’t give a strictly relevant answer, however, you can have wind literally blowing well over 100 miles per hour in both directions at the same time. That’s not going to be good for the wind farms.

I imagine that the towers could be made fairly hurricane safe, the turbines could be streamlined to withstand storms, but I’d guess the blades would have to be removed before a hurricane. That doesn’t sound very easy for the size of blades they have on those things.

(I know that I am speculating in GQ, but I guess I’d be surprised if we have a wind turbine designer on board.)

This site doesn’t describe how, but it does say that they shut down when wind speeds top 55mph.

Wouldn’t they just feather the props (as airplanes do) until the storm passes?

IIRC, that’s exactly what they do. They design the things in wind tunnels, so they know what the air flow over them is like, and considering that they’re not cheap, they’re going to simulate all potential wind conditions so they don’t have to replace the things all the time.

Umm, but wouldn’t … errrm. You sure?

My cite is the pilot of a Hurricane Hunter describing the measurements of his anemometer or whatever they use on CNN. I believe it’s known as wind shear.

Wind shear is typically over at least a few kilometers in atmospheric depth, and there isn’t much wind shear in hurricanes anyway, which is one of the criteria they need to form (wind shear rips them apart, see current Hurricane Wilma).

I’m not a “wind turbine designer” but I work with people who work with wind turbines.

Some wind turbines have blades that can collapse, and if so they do that. While you may be able to “feather the prop”, this does not protect the blades from debris which could be picked up and blown into the very expensive blades. In other cases, they line the blades up with the axis of the tower, adjust the pitch, lock them from turning, and hope for the best.

The truth is, aside from debris issues, the blades are fairly tough. I’ve been told this morning that some are designed for “150 knot gusts”, and that the towers can certainly stand it, but I have no idea if this applies to many, or just some.