Comparative Analysis of the Wind Speeds and Wind Loads Requirements for Puerto Rico on the Last Three Decades
Herrera Pérez, Frances Y.
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This paper presents an analysis of the changes and differences of the wind load provisions between the Building Regulation No. 7 of Puerto Rico (amended in 1987) and the ASCE 7-88 through ASCE 7-16 and how they compare to the current Building Code of Puerto Rico. The comparison focuses on wind speeds, external pressures, and resulting external pressures considering factored actions (ultimate state design). As result of the analysis, it was observed a general tendency to increase the basic wind speed with the years, but since the load factor for wind loads in the 2010 and 2016 edition was reduced to 1.0 (wind loads are considered ultimate loads), the resulting factored pressures have been reduced as compared to the current code that follows the 2005 edition of the ASCE 7. To obtain similar pressures with the new standards that the ones obtained with the 2005 edition, the 3-second gust wind speed in Puerto Rico should be at least 183 mph. Considering the damages and structural failures observed just after the passing of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and the ones produced by Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, and due to the possibility of adopting new building codes such as the ASCE 7-16, we suggest that a code revision regarding the basic wind speed for Puerto Rico is necessary. Key Terms - Hurricanes, Puerto Rico, Wind Loads, Wind Speeds.