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Avoid a Roof Collapse: Clear Snow From Your Rooftop

Light, fluffy snow on rooftops can act as a sponge for rain, which is in the forecast for Monday. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency offers these tips.

With rain in Norton's forecast for Monday, the Blizzard of '13 may not be finished wreaking havoc in Massachusetts.

While temperatures dropped overnight on Friday resulting in light, fluffy snow, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) warns that fluffy snow piled high on roofs can act as a sponge, absorbing rain and adding additional stress to structures.

Relatively flat roofs are particularly vulnerable, MEMA says. In other cases, roof ice dams have formed causing water build-up, leading to interior damage. These conditions can accelerate the snowmelt.

To minimize the risk of over-stressing a building roof due to accumulated or drifting snow:

  • Be on the alert for large accumulating snow build-up or snowdrifts.
  • If roof snow can be removed with the use of a snow rake (available at most hardware stores), do so. Try to avoid working from ladders, as ladder rungs tend to ice up, snow and ice collect on boot soles, and metal ladders and snow rakes conduct electricity if they come into contact with a power line.
  • Flat roofs can be shoveled clear, but only if it is determined that the roof is safe to stand upon. Exercise care when on the roof to avoid potentially dangerous falls.
  • Flat roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize the risk of excess roof ponding in the event of subsequent heavy rainfall or melting.
  • Large icicles can form on roof overhangs, but do not necessarily mean ice damming is occurring. Icicles overhanging walkways can be dangerous and should be carefully removed.
  • All of the above actions should only be performed by able-bodied adults. The snow is heavy, and roofs and other surfaces may be slippery.
  • Protective headgear and eye protection is recommended.

Information from a release by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) was used in this report.

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