05 Apr 2022
05 Apr 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Back analysis of a building collapse under snow and rain loads in Mediterranean area

Isabelle Ousset1, Guillaume Evin1, Damien Raynaud2, and Thierry Faug1 Isabelle Ousset et al.
  • 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, INRAE, UR ETNA, Saint-Martin-d’Hères, F-38402, France
  • 2Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble-INP, IGE UMR 5001, Grenoble, F-38000, France

Abstract. At the end of February 2018 the Mediterranean area of Montpellier in France was struck by a significant snowfall that turned into an intense rain event caused by an exceptional atmospheric situation. This rain-on-snow event produced pronounced damages to many buildings of different types. In this study, we report a detailed back analysis of the roof collapse of a large building, namely the Irstea Cévennes building. Attention is paid to the dynamics of the climatic event, on the one hand, and to the mechanical response of the metal roof structure to normal loading, on the other hand. The former aspect relies on multiple sources of information that provide reliable estimates of snow heights in the area before the rain came into play and substantially modified the snow quality. The latter aspect relies on detailed finite element simulations of the mechanical behaviour of the roof structure in order to assess the pressure due to snow cover loading which could theoretically lead to failure. By combining the two approaches, it is possible to reconstruct the most probable scenario for the roof collapse. As an example of building behaviour and vulnerability to an exceptional rain-on-snow event in the Mediterranean area of France, this detailed case study provides useful key points to be considered in the future for a better mitigation of such events in non-mountainous areas.

Isabelle Ousset et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2022-93', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 Apr 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2022-93', Miroslav Sýkora, 14 Jun 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on nhess-2022-93', Anonymous Referee #3, 20 Jun 2022

Isabelle Ousset et al.

Isabelle Ousset et al.


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Short summary
This paper deals with an exceptional rain-on-snow event in a Mediterranean area (France) in 2018 that led to a research center building collapse. A back analysis is done using multiple sources of information to quantify the meteorological event and conducting simulations of the building. Thanks to the two latter approaches, the collapse is attributed to both the event intensity and an inadequate roof drainage. This raises questions about extreme snow loads mitigation in Mediterranean areas.