Severe winds from thunderstorm outflows pose a challenge to wind turbine arrays. They can cause significant power ramps and disruption in energy production. They can also cause extreme structural damage to turbines as was seen in the severe storm event over the Buffalo Ridge Wind Farm on July 1, 2011. At this southwestern Minnesota site, blades from multiple turbines broke away and a tower buckled in the intense winds. In this study, we attempt to characterize meteorological conditions over the Buffalo Ridge Wind Farm area during this event. The observational network included NEXRAD radars, automated surface observation stations and a wind profiler. Storm reports from the Storm Prediction Center and damage surveys provided additional insight to the in situ measurements. Even with these datasets, assessing wind speeds around turbine rotors is difficult. Thus, Weather Research and Forecasting model simulations of the event are carried out that consider current and anticipated future operational model setups. This work addresses model spatial resolution versus parameterization complexity. Parameterizations of the planetary boundary layer and microphysics processes are evaluated based on their impact on storm dynamics and the low-level wind field. Results are also compared with the Wind Integration National Dataset, which utilizes data assimilation and an extensive continental domain. Enhanced horizontal resolution with simplistic parameterization helps increase resolved wind speeds and ramp intensity. Enhanced sophistication of microphysics parameterizations also helps increase resolved wind speeds, improve storm timing and structure and resolve higher values of turbulent kinetic energy in the lowest 1 km of the atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1803–1822
Number of pages20
JournalWind Energy
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Downburst, Numerical weather prediction, Severe wind, Wind turbine

ID: 19904468