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Snow Load

The steeply sloped sides of the GenTent make it difficult for any significant amount of snow to accumulate on the canopy. Although it is possible for a significant depth of snow to accumulate on the very center of the GenTent, snow elsewhere on the GenTent canopy easily slides off, as illustrated above.

The weight of snow is determined by many factors and varies greatly. In general, colder air temperatures result in lighter snow, while snow formed in warmer air temperatures and old fallen snow are heavier. This variation is due to different types of snow crystals formed by different weather conditions. In addition to recording the depth of a snowfall, it is also common practice to melt fallen snow and record the water-equivalent depth; the result is a ratio of snow-to-water depth. In the United States, this ratio for newly-fallen snow typically falls in the 8:1 - 20:1 range; the standard value used by the US National Weather Service for converting snowfall into liquid water equivalent when observers cannot melt down gage-caught snow is 13:1.

In order to simulate the mass of an extreme quantity of snow accumulation, a hole was drilled through a 2” by 8” (nominal) board to provide clearance for the pin protruding from the GenTent central connector. Upon this board, a 50 lb. bag of Halite salt crystals was placed, a total weight of 55.5 lbs. Over the 799 in2 area covered by the GenTent, 55.5 lbs. would be equivalent to the mass of 1.905” of water at 0°C. At a 10:1 ratio, a wet and heavy snow, 1.9” of water would be equivalent to 19” of snow distributed over the entire canopy surface of the GenTent.

The flexible fiberglass frame rods bowed significantly due to the weight of the snow-equivalent mass, and the GenTent frame clamps deflected. Otherwise, the GenTent supported the weight with no permanent damage; i.e., all of the clamps and fiberglass support rods returned to their original shape and form-factor soon after the 55.5 lb. bag of salt and board was removed.