How to Calculate Snow Drift Load

Written by william hirsch
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How to Calculate Snow Drift Load
Calculate the load of a snow drift using simple physics. (not finished image by Sorin Alb from

Determine the weight that a snow drift applies to a surface, called its load, by finding the drift's volume. Volume specifies how much space an object occupies. The density of an object relates mass to volume by a simple ratio. More compact materials have higher densities. For example, snow is 10 times less dense than water. Snow has a density of 100kg per cubic meter, so 1 cubic meter of snow has a mass of 100kg.

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  1. 1

    Pack the snow drift so that it has roughly the shape of a rectangular box.

  2. 2

    Measure the length, width and height of the snow drift in centimetres. For example, you might measure a length of 136.0cm, a width of 58.0cm and a height of 20cm.

  3. 3

    Convert each measurement to meters by dividing by 100, since a meter contains 100cm. Now the sample dimensions are a length of 1.36m, a width of 0.58m and a height of 0.20m.

  4. 4

    Multiply the length times the width times the height to obtain the volume of the snow drift in cubic meters. Now you have 1.36m times 0.58m times 0.20m, or a volume of 0.158 cubic meters.

  5. 5

    Multiply the volume by the density of snow to arrive at the mass of the drift in kilograms. Performing this step you have 0.158 cubic meters times 100kg per cubic meter, which equals a mass of 15.8kg.

  6. 6

    Convert the mass of the drift to a weight in pounds by multiplying by 2.2046, since a kilogram is equivalent to 01kg. Completing the exercise, you find that the load due to the snow drift is 15.8kg times 10000kg per kg, or 158kg.

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