Parametric studies of unbalanced snow loads on arched roofs Conference

cited authors

  • Hochstenbach, FM; Irwin, PA; Gamble, SL

fiu authors


  • Building codes and standards often indicate that unbalanced loading of arched roofs need not be considered if the roof is flat enough. They typically provide a threshold value for arch height as the criterion. However, real snow doesn't behave differently slightly above the threshold than slightly below. Recent building collapses have brought this issue into discussion since buildings designed below the threshold still produced significant unbalanced loads. The purpose of this research project was to investigate the lower bound of arched roof geometry and to compare the results with provisions of the 1995 National Building Code of Canada (NBCC) and the American Society of Civil Engineers Standard (ASCE 7-2002). Parametric Finite Area Element (FAE) snow loading simulations (using methodology described by Irwin, Gamble and Taylor, 1995) were performed on a range of arched roof geometries using a range of meteorological data sets. The results indicated that, in certain situations, significant unbalanced loading could be expected for roofs that would otherwise be treated as flat, warranting special consideration in the appropriate codes and standards. The study also indicated that the azimuthal orientation of the roof relative to the prevailing winds plays a major role in some cases.

publication date

  • August 16, 2004

start page

  • 503

end page

  • 513