Snow Load Design for Central New York Pole Barns

By |July 27th, 2015|cny pole barns, Post Frame Buildings NY|Comments Off on Snow Load Design for Central New York Pole Barns

Upstate New York pole barns and post frame buildings need to withstand heavy winter weather conditions and stress. Proper post frame building design must account for exceptionally heavy snow accumulation, ice and snow load during the harsh winter months we encounter in the upstate New York area. This past winter was particularly difficult when it came to collapsed pole barns and other post frame buildings across upstate New York due to excessive snow load.

What Is Snow Load?

The term “snow load” is generally defined as one cubic foot of snow weighing approximately 10 pounds. Ice can weigh much more. This is compounded when typical lake effect snow, which is generally light and fluffy, partially melts from exposure to the sun and then re-freezes. More snow. More accumulation. More melting and re-freezing. Last winter was a particularly harsh example of this process, causing many roofs to collapse. Snow and ice load is one of the primary threats to any structure in the Upstate New York region.

Snow Load and Agricultural Pole Barns

Agricultural pole barns and post-frame buildings are some of the vulnerable buildings that are subject to collapse. Secor Building Solutions specifically designs and engineers metal buildings and post frame buildings specifically to withstand harsh Upstate New York winters with ice and snow load which can become far beyond the ordinary.

Central New York agricultural and commercial building design and engineering clearly is not a one-size-fits-all formula. Each project has it’s own unique requirements both from a usage standpoint as well as a weather standpoint. Snow accumulation varies widely across the region since we are most susceptible to lake effect snows off Lake Ontario. While one area may have normal snowfall accumulations, another may experience many times that amount.

The design of Upstate New York pole barns and post frame buildings must support and bear the appropriate levels of weight and stress. Factor in strong winds and the situation quickly becomes serious, particularly with hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment and livestock at stake. Area builders and building owners need to fully understand the roof, truss, snow, ice and wind load requirements for their proposed building.

Load Factor Considerations for Pole Barn Construction

Broadly speaking, the following load types need to be factored into the design of any pole barn or post frame building:

  1. The load and stress levels imposed by normal use and live occupancy.
  2. Objects actually on the roof (e.g. HVAC, lift equipment, and other collateral loads).
  3. Gravity load from the structure itself.
  4. Environmental loads, including ice, snow load and wind load.

The last of these factors can be the more difficult to determine. While all these design factors are subject to budgetary constraints, in our area, given our types of winters, clearly durability and longevity of any building that must withstand such conditions needs to be seriously factored into the design and selection of construction materials.

Ice and Snow Load Capacities for Upstate New York Buildings

Post frame building and pole barns in the Rochester and Syracuse, New York area must be able to stand up to the area’s environmental extremes. Depending upon the type of building, snow load capacities vary. Local building codes may establish standards for ice and snow load in commercial buildings, but property owners need to keep in mind that building codes establish a bare MINIMUM standard for the structure to pass inspection. This may or may not be appropriate for a specific project.

As many area property owners and contractors know, Secor engineers have decades of experience designing pole barns and post frame buildings across the Upstate New York region. They take into account the type of building, the end use of the building, expected snow load, the specific location of the building and environmental considerations of the building location. They also consider customer preferences in roof lines, the size of the building, joist and support requirements, clear span requirements, cupolas, dormers, whether or not the building is heated, and other load bearing factors.