Blog – Water and Storm Damage

FEMA warns of more winter weather and collapsing roofs

With all the snowy weather that has fallen over much of the U.S. since the beginning of the month, FEMA issued a statement warning of the repercussions snow can have on buildings. The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) collaborated with FEMA to warn residents to pay attention to heavy snow on a roof in particular.

FEMA states:

“Officials with ADEM and FEMA advise residents NOT to climb onto their roofs to shovel the snow. Instead, residents are being asked to be on the lookout for some of the warning signs, such as sagging roofs, severe roof leaks, cracks, bends or ripples, cracks in the walls, sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling tiles, doors that pop open, doors or windows that are difficult to open or close, and/or creaking, cracking or popping sounds.

“If these signs of roof distress are present, the structure or the portion of the building that is affected should be evacuated. Residents should always follow the instructions and safety information provided by state and local officials.”

The Weight of Snow

Every inch of water depth from melted snow weighs 5.2 pounds per square foot. To see how much snow-weight is on a roof, you can use a coffee can that is 6 inches in diameter and holds 3 pounds of coffee to make an approximate measurement. Carefully, collect a vertical column of snow from the surface of a roof by pushing the coffee can into the snow until it is full. Then, dump the snow from the coffee can into a bucket. Continue to collect snow from the same area until you reach the top of the roof. Melt the snow and pour the water into the coffee can; measure its depth in inches. Multiply the depth by 5.2 to find out the snow load in pounds per square foot. For example, if the melted water measures 5 inches, the snow load is 31.2 pounds per square foot (6 x 5.2=31.2). Most new roofs are designed to hold about 20 pounds of snow per square foot.

Learn more about preparing for winter weather.

More Snow Forecasted

Residents of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico are urged to prepare now for another episode of ice and snow. As these states are still recovering from the aftermath of the last winter storms, FEMA reminds residents to “get ready, have a plan, put together an emergency kit and stay informed by listening to your local officials for instructions and updated emergency information.”

[photo: Ryan McFarland]

Related articles