Monday, December 13, 2010

Video Del Fuego, Part XXXVIII

There's a heck of a winter storm that's been giving the People's Elbow to the Midwest for the last week or so. Being a life-long Texan, I haven't had much personal experience with this "snow" of which Northerners speak. But water, even frozen water, is deceptively heavy, and its weight rarely gets the respect it truly deserves. Hardly anyone will believe you if you tell them that water weighs a metric ton per cubic meter, but that's the truth. Even so, some fore-sighted soul who works at the Metrodome in Minneapolis had the presence of mind to have the internal cameras turned on and recording when this happened:

As impressive as this footage is, it's not all about the spectacle. This video is pure gold for the engineers whose job it will be to design and build the replacement. Knowing precisely how the failure cascade progressed will tell them exactly where the existing structure came up short. In turn, that will tell them what needs to be made stronger for the new one. Given good information, repeat failures tend to be rare in engineering. Once repaired, and especially once upgraded, I'd be amazed if the roof failed in this same way again.

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