Hugo 1989 - The Performance of Structures in the Wind

by J. A. Murden, The Citadel, Charleston, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hurricane Hugo One Year Later


The performance of buildings in the Carolinas during Hurricane Hugo, 21-22 September 1989, is reviewed. Wind speeds in most locations were below the design levels specified in the local building codes. Much of the damage was the result of having failed to incorporate existing knowledge of wind loads in the building codes. The nature of the damage seen in the wake of Hugo was predicted and inevitable. Most of the wind damage was roof or cladding failure and many of those buildings suffered additional and sometimes more severe damage from rains that followed days after the storm. Total collapses were observed both in exposed and in some relatively sheltered locations. In general, single family dwellings performed well in urban and suburban locations. The failures of these structures in the highest wind speed regions were roof loss, shear failures and foundation failures. Unreinforced masonry performed very poorly even in sheltered locations. Metal building performance was mixed: new construction fared well, while older facilities suffered. Steel or concrete frame structural systems performed well, but many of these buildings suffered roof and cladding failures that led to extensive interior damage.

Subject Headings: Roof failures | Failure analysis | Shear failures | Structural failures | Wind engineering | Building codes | Foundation design | Wind loads

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