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.