For those who live in wintry regions, snow is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be beautiful and scenic, good for skiing and other winter sports, and the stuff for building snowmen. On the negative side, too much snow can paralyze the roadways and even damage buildings. Roof collapse because of thick, heavy snow is a real problem in many parts of the country.
The Weight of Snow Burden
One cubic foot of snow weighs 30 to 40 pounds. One inch of snow on a roof weighs about 1 pound per square foot, more if the snow is wet. Letting a three-inch wet snowfall sit on a 1000 square-foot roof is like melting a car down and pouring the residue onto a roof.
Some areas of the country routinely get snowfalls of a foot or more in winter. Areas in the snow belts on the lee sides of the Great Lakes are good examples.
Some Notable Roof Collapses
Every winter, roofs collapse for the weight of snow burden in the United States. In January of 2017, relentless snowstorms produced thick accumulations of snow weighed down many buildings in Idaho, causing numerous roofs to collapse. Some of the structures included a bowling alley, a grocery store, and a church. In another example, numerous roofs came down in the Buffalo, NY area when over 6 feet of snow fell in November 2014. Interestingly, more commercial-building roofs collapse than those of residential houses; this is because commercial structures often have flat roofs.
Protect Your Roof from Collapse
If you have a property in a snow-prone region, it may be sensible to employ roof monitoring technology. Modern monitoring systems can continuously measure the depth and weight of snow on your property so that you can take action before damage is done.