05 Apr 2022
 | 05 Apr 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal NHESS.

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

Isabelle Ousset, Guillaume Evin, Damien Raynaud, and Thierry Faug

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.


Total article views: 924 (including HTML, PDF, and XML)
HTML PDF XML Total BibTeX EndNote
598 293 33 924 10 13
  • HTML: 598
  • PDF: 293
  • XML: 33
  • Total: 924
  • BibTeX: 10
  • EndNote: 13
Views and downloads (calculated since 05 Apr 2022)
Cumulative views and downloads (calculated since 05 Apr 2022)

Viewed (geographical distribution)

Total article views: 878 (including HTML, PDF, and XML) Thereof 878 with geography defined and 0 with unknown origin.
Country # Views %
  • 1
Latest update: 02 Oct 2023
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.