High winds subject buildings to large horizontal forces as well as to significant uplift. The critical damage to buildings in such events typically occurs due to uplift on the roof.
Reinforced concrete masonry is well suited to resist these loads due to its relatively large mass available to resist the large uplift and overturning forces.Additionally, the grout and reinforcing steel tie the walls into a strong, cohesive unit minimizing the number of connectors needed and reducing the margin for error, as a structure is only as strong as its weakest link.
As with seismic design, connections between individual building elements—roof, walls, floors and foundation—are critical to maintaining structural continuity during a high wind event.
A primary goal for buildings subjected to high winds is to maintain a continuous load path from the roof to the foundation. This allows wind uplift forces on the roof to be safely distributed through the walls to the foundation, where they are dissipated into the ground. If one part of the load path fails, or is discontinuous, building failure may occur.
Proper detailing and installation of mechanical connectors is necessary for maintaining continuous load paths. Note that in order for connectors to provide their rated load capacity, they must be installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications. In coastal areas, corrosion protection of the connectors is especially important due to the corrosive environment.
In addition, a continuously reinforced bond beam around the entire perimeter of the building with vertical reinforcement at strategic locations in the wall is needed to resist design loads.