Finite element modelling of transmission line structures under tornado wind loading

  • Hamada, A. (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Western Ontario) ;
  • El Damatty, A.A. (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Western Ontario) ;
  • Hangan, H. (Alan G. Davenport Wind Engineering Group, The Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Western Ontario) ;
  • Shehata, A.Y. (Atomic Energy of Canada Limited)
  • Received : 2009.11.10
  • Accepted : 2010.03.09
  • Published : 2010.09.25


The majority of weather-related failures of transmission line structures that have occurred in the past have been attributed to high intensity localized wind events, in the form of tornadoes and downbursts. A numerical scheme is developed in the current study to assess the performance of transmission lines under tornado wind load events. The tornado wind field is based on a model scale Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) analysis that was conducted and validated in a previous study. Using field measurements and code specifications, the CFD model data is used to estimate the wind fields for F4 and F2 full scale tornadoes. The wind forces associated with these tornado fields are evaluated and later incorporated into a nonlinear finite element three-dimensional model for the transmission line system, which includes a simulation for the towers and the conductors. A comparison is carried between the forces in the members resulting from the tornadoes, and those obtained using the conventional design wind loads. The study reveals the importance of considering tornadoes when designing transmission line structures.


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