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Wind Load Factor Analysis: An Exploratory


Snohomish Wind Group

Alexi Curelop, Kofi Petty, Sonya Prasertong

Geography 469
Spring 2010
Goal and Purpose

• How can we calculate and visualize the wind velocity pressure

constant (Kzt factor) using the topography of Snohomish

• Scott Beard, Plans Examiner for City of Tacoma, manually produced Kzt factors
for King County and City of Tacoma
• Will Rugg, GIS Analyst for Snohomish County Planning and Development
Services, interested in how to automate the process via ArcGIS

• Our group decided to take on this topic in order to challenge our knowledge of
how to apply GIS to real world problems
Kzt Factor Significance

• Kzt factor when calculated is equivalent to specified wind speeds and is on

a scale of 1-2 (eg. Kzt of 2 = 120mph)

• It is part of a larger calculation used by planners and architects for

determining appropriate areas and materials when developing land

• Our project, if successful, could aid Snohomish County in reducing the

costs of building and planning for their architects and planners
The Kzt Factor

• Kzt = (1 + K1 + K2 + K3)2
• K 1 = determined from table below
• K2 = (1 – (|x|/µLh))
• K3= e-γz/Lh
Parameters for Speed-Up over Hills and Escarpments
Exposure µ
Hill Shape γ Upwind of Crest Downwind of Crest

2-dimensional ridges 1.30 1.45 1.55 3 1.5 1.5

2-dimensional 0.75 0.85 0.95 2.5 1.5 4
3-dimensional 0.95 1.05 1.15 4 1.5 1.5
axisym, hill

Source: American Society of Civil Engineers: Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, 2006
Need-to-Know Questions

1. What are the mid-points of the data?

2. Based off of the mid-points, what is the velocity pressure constant (Kzt
factor) of the terrain?

3. How do we model the output information product?

1. What are the mid-points of the data?

• Using primarily Spatial Analyst, we were able to calculate the slope of

our pilot area to identify base and peak elevations of landforms

• We could then create a map of depicting polygons representing these

areas, with the centroids for each polygon identified

• Tools used: Slope Calculation, Raster Calculator, Convert Raster to

Features, Neighborhood Statistics, Zonal Statistics
2. Based off of the mid-points, what is the velocity
pressure constant (Kzt factor) of the terrain?

• From here we used the Identify tool to find the exact elevations for the
the base and peak polygons of our landforms

• We created lines and points to keep track of our calculations, which were
recorded in an Excel spreadsheet

• Due to the specifications of the Kzt formula, only 4 landforms were able
to be selected for calculation

• Tools used: Identify tool, Measurement tool, Editor toolbar, Microsoft

3. How do we model the output information

• We decided the best method of visualization would be colored polygons

around our selected landforms, with each color representing a range of

• We decided to use the Waterbodies and Major Roads layers as a means

of orienting the audience to our pilot area location

• Tools used: Editor toolbar, Add Field tool, Transparency setting


• Due to the specifications of what landforms can be calculated for Kzt,

there were only 4 landforms that could be selected

• Of these 4 landforms, each seemed to fall on the two extremes of the

Kzt factor scale (either 1 or very close to 2).

• Kzt Factor Results:

Landform A = 2.43
Landform B = 1.99
Landform C = 1.00
Landform D = 1.93

• The area we selected contained landforms on both extremes of the Kzt

factor scale of 1-2

• We were able to automate the process of calculating peak and base


• More time is needed in order to create a more complex pilot study

• Python scripting could assist in automating our manual Kzt calculations

• Due to our lack of comprehensive knowledge of the particulars of civil

engineering formulas, errors in calculations were a possibility

• Creating a Python script that can automatically run the manual

calculations we performed

• Work with individuals that have an in-depth knowledge of both the

capabilities of GIS as well as civil engineering background to limit possible
errors in calculations

• Allow for a study with a longer timeline