Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Degree Level



Civil Engineering


Rathinam P. Selvam

Committee Member

Ernest Heymsfield

Second Committee Member

Micah Hale

Third Committee Member

Rick Couvillion


Applied sciences, Circular cylinder, Dynamic loading, Tornado loading, Vatistas vortex, Vortex loading, Vortex-structure interaction


Structural loading produced by an impacting vortex is a hazardous phenomenon that is encountered in numerous applications ranging from the destruction of residences by tornados to the chopping of tip vortices by rotors. Adequate design of structures to resist vortex-induced structural loading necessitates study of the phenomenon that control the structural loading produced by an impacting vortex. This body of work extends the current knowledge base of vortex-structure interaction by evaluating the influence of the relative vortex-to-structure size on the structural loading that the vortex produces. A computer model is utilized to directly simulate the two-dimensional impact of an impinging vortex with a slender, cylindrical structure. The vortex’s tangential velocity profile (TVP) is defined by a normalization of the Vatistas analytical (TVP) which realistically replicates the documented spectrum of measured vortex TVPs. The impinging vortex’s maximum tangential velocity is fixed, and the vortex’s critical radius is incremented from one to one-hundred times the structure’s diameter. When the impinging vortex is small, it interacts with vortices produced on the structure by the free stream, and maximum force coefficient amplitudes vary by more than 400% when the impinging vortex impacts the structure at different times. Maximum drag and lift force coefficient amplitudes reach asymptotic values as the impinging vortex’s size increases that are respectively 94.77% and 10.66% less than maximum force coefficients produced by an equivalent maximum velocity free stream. The vortex produces maximum structural loading when its path is shifted above the structure’s centerline, and maximum drag and lift force coefficients are respectively up to 4.80% and 34.07% greater than maximum force coefficients produced by an equivalent-velocity free stream. Finally, the dynamic load factor (DLF) concept is used to develop a generalized methodology to assess the dynamic amplification of a structure’s response to vortex loading and to assess the dynamic loading threat that tornados pose. Typical civil and residential structures will not experience significant response amplification, but responses of very flexible structures may be amplified by up to 2.88 times.