Falling Snow and Ice

Analyzing risks and finding solutions for the complex factors that govern accumulation and release of ice/snow

All buildings built in snowy environments collect ice and snow on roofs, parapets and façades. Under certain conditions, accumulated ice or snow can fall from the building, creating a hazard for people below. Such accumulations can also damage the structure.

Slight adjustments to design details can dramatically lower these risks. Often, such changes improve daily operations as well.

Ice on roof ledge

Our service

We help you minimize the risk of harmful consequences from the accumulation of ice and snow. We can’t guarantee that ice or snow will never fall from your structure, but we can help you significantly reduce the frequency and severity of such events.

We consult extensively with the design team to discuss the details of the building and to review options for minimizing the risk of falling ice and snow. Our evaluations are based on observations made during decades of practice by company founder Colin Williams, a pioneer in engineering resilience to snow and ice. At the conclusion of this review, we issue a report summarizing the mitigation options that have been adopted for the building.

When desired, we can also apply our custom analysis methodology to assess the relative risks of particular design features. With this method, we quantify snow- and ice-related risk over the return period you specify, much as we would state risks of wind loading on structures or cladding. In developing this risk analysis, we may use wind tunnel studies to learn where wind-driven accumulation will occur. In addition, detailed simulations allow us to work through complex combinations of other contributing factors and possible solutions.

All of our analyses focus on four main issues: 

  1. How often will this issue arise?
  2. How severe are the consequences?
  3. How big a change to the architecture is required?
  4. How much will the alteration cost? 

We have the tools to address the first two points and propose ideas for the third. You and your team can then weigh in on the discussion regarding the third and fourth points. The result is well-rounded discussion that leads to a cost- and risk-optimized solution.