ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — As Bills fans may, unfortunately, recall strong wind conditions have played a big role in some past games including last year with the New England Patriots.
But as part of the new Bills stadium design in Orchard Park, it's been reported by WGR Sports Radio that the Bills and its hired design firm are looking at ways to reduce the impact of those strong winds.
2 On Your Side took a closer look at the technology and science that for most of us, may be way over our heads.
As we all wonder what a new Bills stadium will actually look like beyond those past artistic renderings, engineers and designers may already be considering one particular element. That would be the wind.
As we've seen in some Bills games, especially for some reason with the Patriots, it can really influence the game plan. Unfortunately last December there was a game where a ground rushing strategy paid off for New England.
But even more dramatically in December 2008, also a Patriot's win in Orchard Park, strong, swirling winds bent the goalposts over, ripped off part of the Bills Fieldhouse roof, and then just slapped away a Bills' field goal attempt.
Dr. Joh Hall, who is a Professor at the UB Engineering School and specializes in wind energy notes that "Buffalo is actually one of the windiest cities in the country."
So Professor Hall, who is obviously a Bills fan, is intrigued with a WBEN and WGR Radio report that the Bills' contracted Populous design firm may actually try to build a perforated windscreen mesh at the top of the stadium to really as they put it "confuse" the wind.
Channel 2 Chief Meteorologist Patrick Hammer says, "It's tricky to forecast exact wind speeds and direction. I mean we get a pretty good idea but when you can do is find ways to mitigate what the wind will do once it enters the stadium. Because that's the biggest issue now. The wind can be doing something outside the stadium. What it does inside sometimes is entirely different."
Sometimes there can actually be a vortex effect or again those swirling winds within the stadium.
So Hammer says a wind "confusion" structure" will take the wind and deflect it or in this case dampen it as it approaches the actual structure of the stadium. There's a way to actually reduce the wind speed before it actually approaches the field."
Professor Hall agrees, "There would be a benefit to that. That's something that whenever they design a stadium, they want to understand exactly what the impact of that would be and that would need to be modeled."
Engineers around the world have actually used stadium scale models in wind tunnels to figure out wind flow with scholarly studies on the subject. And that includes a focus on something called CFD - Computational Fluid Dynamics to model the flow of air or fluids.
Professor Hall says, "With the way that we're able to model wind behavior, we're getting better at that. There's still a lot to be learned about how air flows around structures, around ground structures, trees, and how that all works together."
So far no one from the Populous design firm has returned our messages for comment on all this. Perhaps they were lost in the wind or to blown away by the concept to discuss it further.