As the winter months approach in South Dakota and across the northern hemisphere, it’s time to get ready for heavy snow loads and high winds. Snowfall combined with frequent days of high winds and potential for dangerous blizzards makes it important to know the ins and outs of constructing a steel building in cold climates.

Did You Know?

South Dakota experiences more snowfall than 37 of the 50 states, with an average of 30.1 days of snowfall accumulating 43.9 inches.

Steel building roofs are designed to handle snow loadsCalculation Accuracy

Steel buildings are perfectly suited for handling the heavy snowfall in South Dakota as well as other snowy states, but it’s important to get an accurate snow load estimate to ensure your steel building won’t fail under the pressure.

Calculating a snow load can be complicated as several factors come into play, including the type of snow, the weight of snow and the shape of your roof, among other things.

4 Types of Snow to Consider

  • Snowflakes: single ice crystals that fall from a cloud
  • Hoarfrost: forms on things like fence wires
  • Graupel: consists of snowflakes that become rounded (like hail)
  • Polycrystals: snowflakes composed of many individual ice crystals

Other Factors to Consider

There are a few things to consider when designing your steel building for a cold climate. Roof pitch is significant in areas like South Dakota that experience sizable snowfall. A steel building with a high-pitched roof will help clear snow and snow melt. Because of the high winds of a South Dakota winter, wind loads must also be considered in your steel building design. We’re confident that our durable steel buildings can shoulder the load, but accurate estimates and attention to detail will guarantee the safety of your steel building.

Did You Know?

A building with a 1:12 roof pitch is considerably cheaper than higher roof pitches such as a 6:12 and the 1:12 pitched roof can be engineered to withstand the weight of your local snow loads.

How General Steel Makes Sure Your Building Won’t Fail

One common way to cut costs in the metal building industry is to under-load a building destined for a windy or snow climate. Unfortunately there are only two outcomes when this happens: building collapse or change orders. General Steel has experience designing and delivering steel buildings to snowy climates like South Dakota. Make sure you go with an experienced supplier like General Steel who can assure your metal building is prefabricated according to local codes.

40x75 General Steel Building with 5:12 roof pitch

Tools to Help Alleviate Snow Loads

There are several tools and accessories that can help alleviate the stress of a South Dakota type snow load on your building. Roof rakes, de-icers and snow guards are all tools that should be considered when constructing a steel building. These tools can keep snow from accumulating and threatening the structural integrity of your building.

Get Started

It’s important to note that despite the dangers of heavy snow loads, we’re 100% confident that our durable steel buildings are the best and safest in the industry and also a significant upgrade from traditional pole barn buildings. Each building we sell is designed and prefabricated to the snow, wind, and seismic requirements of the building’s final location.

Some Useful Steel Building Research You Can Do on Your Own

If you’re ready to get started, first take a look at this useful map to determine your ground snow load: ground snow load map. Then use this handy snow load analysis calculator if you want to learn more about how design impacts roof strength and integrity. It will give you some background knowledge on snow loads as you familiarize yourself with the design stage of construction. When you are ready to start your project, contact us at General Steel, and we can provide specific information and our experiences supplying buildings for South Dakota and other cold climates.


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