Heavy snow collapses Minneapolis Metrodome roof

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 6:22 PM GMT on December 12, 2010

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A raging December blizzard buried Minneapolis, Minnesota under 17 inches of snow over the weekend, triggering the collapse early this morning of the air-inflated roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome, home of the Minnesota Vikings football team. The storm roared out of Canada on Friday morning, bringing heavy snow, sustained winds of 25 – 35 mph, and blizzard conditions through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. The heaviest snows occurred near Osceola, Wisconsin, where 23 inches fell. The storm also dumped 21" at Noisy Basin, Montana, 14" in Williston, ND, and 14" in Negaunee, MI. Officially, 17.1” of snow fell at the Minneapolis airport; 16.3” of it on Saturday. Saturday's snow amounted to 1.75” of melted precipitation, for a snow-to-water equivalent ratio of 9:1. For those of you who've ever shoveled snow know, that's a very wet, heavy snow, and its no wonder the roof of the Metrodome had trouble with such a huge weight of snow.


Figure 1. Amount of precipitation for the 24 hours ending at 1am EST Sunday, in melted snow equivalent. Up to two inches of precipitation fell (brown colors) near the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. Image credit: NOAA /NOHRSC.

In the wake of the storm, bitterly cold air from Canada will sweep southwards into the U.S., and high temperatures near 0°F are expected for Minneapolis on Monday. Lows near -30°F are expected in northern Minnesota near International Falls on Monday night. The cold will penetrate into Florida's orange groves Monday night, with lows in the mid-20s expected in Orlando.

Jeff Masters

Dec MPLS Snow Storm (Holocron)
Dec MPLS Snow Storm
()
Window Frost (tomekandjola)
Window Frost

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Quoting EnergyMoron:


SARCASM_START What ya mean you don't like my argument from Houston. I mean like it is balmy here. SARCASM_END


LOL. NE side of Harris County here. Balmy implies a certain amount of humidity.

SARCASM continues...
KHGX Drought Information Statement - December 11th, 2010
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Quoting beell:


True. A few days of continental record highs or lows do not make a valid argument for a warming or a cooling planet.


SARCASM_START What ya mean you don't like my argument from Houston. I mean like it is balmy here. SARCASM_END
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


And as far as climate for the year goes, the YTD records are the only ones that matter. And even with those, they are still just 1 year, and it is still less than 5% of the planet's surface...


True. A few days of continental record highs or lows do not make a valid argument for a warming or a cooling planet.
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Quoting beell:


My bad. That is what you said. Go figure.
I couldn't find a source for the YTD records either...


And as far as climate for the year goes, the YTD records are the only ones that matter. And even with those, they are still just 1 year, and it is still less than 5% of the planet's surface...
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Some light snow in northern AL & GA. Nothing in the best available surface obs reaching the ground in southern AL. Radar can be misleading sometimes.

UCAR Metar Java Applet

or this one.

NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory - Metar Data
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Still 62....but very windy.


That's toasty... down to 7.8 C here in Houston and it is dropping fast.
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Still 62....but very windy.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

That's what I said, isn't it? That the only day in the past seven that highs outnumbered lows was yesterday (23 to 9)?


Actually, for a "cold snap" this is still quite balmy. By this time the last two years we had already had snow in Houston... 1989 was truly cold around Christmas (7 degree min and I can remember not being able to get out owing to ice)... 1983 was the famous Siberian express event around Christmas. It seemed as if half the pipes burst in the city in that event. And in 1982 there was a day that was about 15 and I can remember being an idiot grad student who didn't look at the weather back then and spending 18 hours straight inside came out to... something in the teens without a jacket.

Oh well... get to test out the new setup whereby I can turn off only the cold water on nights like these (those darn drops to the outdoor faucets are the most likely to freeze).

(Sarcasm flag on) Yah, it's getting warmer (sarcarsm flag off... my attempt at statistics is invalid)
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Quoting ShenValleyFlyFish:
Got to wonder if could do a controlled deflate and remove snow and re-inflate.



Sorry, but no. The snow is much easier to remove when the roof is inflated, due to the slope. Letting it collect at the bottom would put too much strain on the panels.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

That's what I said, isn't it? That the only day in the past seven that highs outnumbered lows was yesterday (23 to 9)?


My bad. That is what you said. Go figure.
I couldn't find a source for the YTD records either...
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Quoting Beachfoxx:
Oh it took me over an hour to drive from friend's house to my mothers. 7 miles. Had to wait at a stop for salt truck and truly there was not that much snow on the road.



hi and hi all i have not for got in about you still dont have the internet at home yet but do have plans on geting it soon all so have a nic new laptop all so if you guys want too see what it looks like stop by my dusted old blog and make a commet on it
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Quoting Neapolitan:

No, 2010. Isn't it 2009? What? WHAT!? How did I miss 2010?!?! Why didn't someone tell me?!!! Oh, man, is my tax return gonna be late!!

:-)

Yes, I meant 2011. Fixed. Gracias...



LOL ok
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The snowline is almost to Florida; radar loops show flakes falling around Dothan, Alabama, a town only a dozen or so miles from the state line.

Yikes...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14227
Only 62 here now in Lake Worth.
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For Royal Palm Beach, FL:

Monday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 29. Wind chill values as low as 20. Northwest wind between 11 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting beell:
And Neap, may want to step through HAMweather by the day for the past week.

Record lows and record low maximums far outnumber the highs.

That's what I said, isn't it? That the only day in the past seven that highs outnumbered lows was yesterday (23 to 9)?
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14227
Altamonte Springs

Monday
Clear
49° F | 23° F

Tuesday
Clear
52° F | 29° F

Wednesday
Clear
65° F | 36° F

Thursday
Clear
72° F | 49° F

Friday
Partly Cloudy
72° F | 50°
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The U finds its next head coach.

I hope he's it.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting lickitysplit:
Nothing to see here. Global warming is a hoax. Move along.


Every time a ding-a-ling blogs...an angel gets its wings.
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And Neap, may want to step through HAMweather by the day for the past week.

Record lows and record low maximums far outnumber the highs.
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Quoting lickitysplit:
Nothing to see here. Global warming is a hoax. Move along.


Sigh, it's not a hoax, there's facts, but it's a partisan issue.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Oh it took me over an hour to drive from friend's house to my mothers. 7 miles. Had to wait at a stop for salt truck and truly there was not that much snow on the road.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Yeah, I saw that. In fact, the only day this week that highs outnumbered lows was yesterday. Go figure. ;-)

Still, given that highs this past year have vastly outnumbered lows in the CONUS, it's pretty safe to say that 2010 will go down in the record books as one of the very hottest ever recorded--exactly as predicted. And it certainly won't be the last...unfortunately.


Just for the record, can you link that information?
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Hi all! Snow & cold in east TN mountains. Guess I may have to stay in TN a couple of extra days! Too cold in FL to play outside. May as well play in the snow.
Hi Taz!

Quoting aquak9:
(stands up and cheers for taz)
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Quoting beell:
HAMweather - 421 record low temps - Sunday, Dec 5th through Monday, Dec 13th

(64 record highs for the same period).
;-)

Yeah, I saw that. In fact, the only day this week that highs outnumbered lows was yesterday. Go figure. ;-)

Still, given that highs this past year have vastly outnumbered lows in the CONUS, it's pretty safe to say that 2010 will go down in the record books as one of the very hottest ever recorded--exactly as predicted. And it certainly won't be the last...unfortunately.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14227
Nothing to see here. Global warming is a hoax. Move along.
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Quoting Tazmanian:



dont you mean 2011 hurricane season?

No, 2010. Isn't it 2009? What? WHAT!? How did I miss 2010?!?! Why didn't someone tell me?!!! Oh, man, is my tax return gonna be late!!

:-)

Yes, I meant 2011. Fixed. Gracias...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14227
(stands up and cheers for taz)
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HAMweather - 421 record low temps - Sunday, Dec 5th through Monday, Dec 13th

(64 record highs for the same period).
;-)
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Quoting Neapolitan:
As of this writing: 169 days, 23 hours, and 29 minutes until the start of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock... ;-)



dont you mean 2011 hurricane season?
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As of this writing: 169 days, 23 hours, and 29 minutes until the start of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock... ;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 14227
Minnesota Metrognome just before collapse...

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That video of the collapse could be out of a horror movie.... Yes, I read the why's and the fact there was warning.
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Weather Alerts for Palm Beach County:

ALERT 1 - Hard Freeze Watch
A HARD FREEZE WATCH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9:00AM EST TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14

Event Start: Monday, December 13, 2010 11:00 PM EST
Event End: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 9:00 AM EST

ALERT 2 - Freeze Watch
A FREEZE WATCH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9:00AM EST WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15
Event Start: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 11:00 PM EST
Event End: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 9:00 AM EST

ALERT 3 - Wind Chill Watch
A WIND CHILL WATCH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10:00AM EST TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14
Event Start: Monday, December 13, 2010 7:00 PM EST
Event End: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 10:00 AM EST

ALERT 4 - Wind Chill Advisory
A WIND CHILL ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9:00AM EST MONDAY, DECEMBER 13
Event Start: Monday, December 13, 2010 5:00 AM EST
Event End: Monday, December 13, 2010 9:00 AM EST

ALERT 5 - Freeze Watch
A FREEZE WATCH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9:00AM EST TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14
Event Start: Monday, December 13, 2010 11:00 PM EST
Event End: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 9:00 AM EST

ALERT 6 - Fire Weather Watch
A FIRE WEATHER WATCH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 7:00PM EST TUESDAY, DECEMBER 14
Event Start: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 10:00 AM EST
Event End: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 7:00 PM EST
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How Fox got shots of Metrodome roof collapse - USA Today

Five times in the stadium's history, heavy snows or other weather conditions have damaged the roof and caused it to deflate. On November 19, 1981, a rapid accumulation of over a foot of snow caused the roof to collapse, requiring it to be re-inflated. It deflated the following winter on December 30, 1982, again because of a tear caused by heavy snow. This was four days before the Vikings played the Dallas Cowboys in the last regular season game of the 1982 NFL season. In the spring following that same winter, on April 14, 1983, the Metrodome roof deflated because of a tear caused by a late-season heavy snow, and the scheduled Twins' game with the California Angels was postponed. On April 26, 1986, the Metrodome roof suffered a slight tear because of high winds, causing a nine-minute delay in the bottom of the seventh inning vs the Angels.
Hubert H Humphrey Metrodome - Wikipedia
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Lawrenceville-Vincennes Intl Airport
Lat: 38.76 Lon: -87.6 Elev: 430
Last Update on Dec 12, 3:53 pm CST

Snow Freezing Fog and Windy

24 °F
(-4 °C)
Humidity: 84 %
Wind Speed: NW 30 G 41 MPH
Barometer: 29.68" (1005.6 mb)
Dewpoint: 20 °F (-7 °C)
Wind Chill: 7 °F (-14 °C)
Visibility: 0.25 mi.




might as well be a blizzard :p
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Quoting kellnerp:

Got to be joking. It is a membrane roof. Held up by air pressure. There is no structure at all to reinforce. Generally there are cables in a network pattern over the top to keep the shape. It is the perfect roof for a snow collapse because the collapse is slow and controlled. You couldn't economically build a truss roof for Minnesota snow loads. In the spring they will put in a new membrane and reinflate it.

Hail just bounces off. They don't use them in hurricane alley because you can get aero-elastic vibrations. If the dome was occupied there would be plenty of warning to allow a safe and orderly evacuation which is not true of other roof constructions.

It is very likely they had a lot of warning. After all they had time to get a camera crew inside to film the collapse. And the tearing membrane meant they were taking steps to prevent collapse by overinflating it. The water coming in meant they had the heaters on full tilt to try to melt the snow off.
the way i read the article with the video on yahoo--the cams are mounted inside--not a "camera crew"--just regular cams, probably for security. still snowing here in central illinois-peoria area. had a recorded wind gust of 52mph around 11 am. most roads are reported as 50-100% snow/ice covered.
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Quoting kellnerp:

One post makes those four years in engineering school worth it. Thanks.

There are also freespan structures that are inherently hurricane and tornado proof.
Got to wonder if could do a controlled deflate and remove snow and re-inflate (sorry about the re-post quoted wrong thread)
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Afternoon all.... just got some showers here in Nassau, and the air temp has dropped somewhat [about 5 degrees] since about 2 pm.... when it was still pretty warm here.

Hope everyone being impacted by this latest front stays safe.
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Quoting kellnerp:

Got to be joking. It is a membrane roof. Held up by air pressure. There is no structure at all to reinforce. Generally there are cables in a network pattern over the top to keep the shape. It is the perfect roof for a snow collapse because the collapse is slow and controlled. You couldn't economically build a truss roof for Minnesota snow loads. In the spring they will put in a new membrane and reinflate it.

Hail just bounces off. They don't use them in hurricane alley because you can get aero-elastic vibrations. If the dome was occupied there would be plenty of warning to allow a safe and orderly evacuation which is not true of other roof constructions.

It is very likely they had a lot of warning. After all they had time to get a camera crew inside to film the collapse. And the tearing membrane meant they were taking steps to prevent collapse by overinflating it. The water coming in meant they had the heaters on full tilt to try to melt the snow off.

You didn't have to be condescending.
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Quoting caneswatch:


Since you put it that way, I can see why they made it the way they did. Thanks for telling us what's all behind it.

One post makes those four years in engineering school worth it. Thanks.

There are also freespan structures that are inherently hurricane and tornado proof.
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Quoting Catherdr:


Currently you are on the "warm" side of the front. Thomasville GA airport in SW GA was at 46 about 30 minutes ago. Dothan AL was near 43 at the same time.


Figures with the temps that high, but i think we are getting on the other side now winds are gusting to 33 sustained at 17 our temps have dropped to 48 wind chill 42.
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Quoting kellnerp:


A membrane roof is just a big balloon. You have the snow loads and the weight of the roof being balanced by air pressure inside. The weight that the roof can support is determined by the tensile stress the membrane can withstand. But the thicker the membrane, the heavier it is. Because collapse is predictable and has relatively minor consequences as roof collapses go, it may be more economical to just let it collapse and put in a new membrane when it happens.

For those that think this was a terrible disaster consider this:
When designing a roof the design snow load will be the same whether the roof is a membrane or a truss. The factors of safety will also likely be similar. So if this had been a conventional roof it would still have collapsed but would have done so unexpectedly and catastrophically. It would have been the end of the life of the building and anyone inside caught without warning. A building with controlled collapse and plenty of warning signs is to be preferred when you can't predict the loads.


Since you put it that way, I can see why they made it the way they did. Thanks for telling us what's all behind it.
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting kellnerp:

If it gets windy here which frequently happens after a big system snow then there will be blizzard conditions and snow will pile up in drifts blocking roads and such.
Got to wonder if could do a controlled deflate and remove snow and re-inflate.
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Quoting gaweatherboi:
Im in Southeast GA


Currently you are on the "warm" side of the front. Thomasville GA airport in SW GA was at 46 about 30 minutes ago. Dothan AL was near 43 at the same time.
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Here is my location

Millen, GA
Mostly Cloudy

55 °F
(13 °C)
Humidity: 51 %
Wind Speed: W 18 G 33 MPH
Barometer: 29.53"
Dewpoint: 37 °F (3 °C)
Wind Chill: 50 °F (10 °C)
Visibility: 10.00 mi.
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Quoting gaweatherboi:


SE GA its just very windy here nothing else

If it gets windy here which frequently happens after a big system snow then there will be blizzard conditions and snow will pile up in drifts blocking roads and such.
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Quoting caneswatch:


Since it's happened before, I wonder why they wouldn't just put a whole new roof on all together.


A membrane roof is just a big balloon. You have the snow loads and the weight of the roof being balanced by air pressure inside. The weight that the roof can support is determined by the tensile stress the membrane can withstand. But the thicker the membrane, the heavier it is. Because collapse is predictable and has relatively minor consequences as roof collapses go, it may be more economical to just let it collapse and put in a new membrane when it happens.

For those that think this was a terrible disaster consider this:
When designing a roof the design snow load will be the same whether the roof is a membrane or a truss. The factors of safety will also likely be similar. So if this had been a conventional roof it would still have collapsed but would have done so unexpectedly and catastrophically. It would have been the end of the life of the building and anyone inside caught without warning. A building with controlled collapse and plenty of warning signs is to be preferred when you can't predict the loads.
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Quoting kellnerp:

Where? Just snow gently falling here in northern Indiana.


SE GA its just very windy here nothing else
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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