Snow Accumulation Studies
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Winter Hazards
Blowing and accumulating snow is a potential hazard for people and structures. In Montreal, the roof of a large distribution centre collapsed because of the heavy accumulation of snow. Highway accidents often result from “white-out” conditions and black ice, caused by combined action of wind and snow. Near Barrie, Ontario, 12 people died in a massive automobile accident on Highway 400, due to “white-outs”. Theakston participated in the inquest and found that simple wind altering devices could have prevented the “white-out” condition which lead to the accident.

Snowstorms are simulated by using silica sand to represent snow and flowing water to represent wind. The ground snow load is determined using the National Building Code and is duplicated in the laboratory facility.

The result of introducing the sand into the model is a photographic illustration, including depth measurements, of what the snow patterns would be. Areas that are scrubbed clean by whirling vortex winds can be seen as well as points of high accumulation.

Mitigative devices are often simple adjustments or additions to the site plan to alter the wind patterns. Such alterations improve the comfort of the area and protect the structural integrity of the building.