Watch Your Roof After It Snows

Insurance experts issue roof warnings for weight of snow.

The second blizzard in less than a week is expected to strike the central U.S. on Monday, bringing heavy snow and possible high winds. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued blizzard warnings in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, while severe winter weather is expected as far north as Michigan. Forecasters also fear that tornadoes are possible further southeast on Monday.

Forecasted snow amounts vary throughout the region, but parts of Oklahoma and Kansas could see upward of a foot of snow by the end of Monday. The heavy snowfall comes after areas of Kansas received record snowfall last week. In Zenda, Kansas, more than 18 inches of snow fell on Zenda, Kansas last week, while Wichita, Kansas saw its second-highest snowfall last Thursday with 14.2 inches, according to NWS.

Frequent winter storms and snow days can put your roof at risk of collapsing. Don’t wait before it is too late, determine when it is time to remove snow from your roof using the following guidance from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

Unless the roof structure is damaged or decayed, most residential roofs regardless of the location of the house should be able to support 20 lbs. per square foot of snow before they become stressed. If you live in an area known for lots of snow, you can probably check with your building department to find out if higher loads were used at the time your home was built.

Determine how much the snow on your roof weighs below. Afterwards, find additional details on preventing roof collapse at IBHS’ DisasterSafety.org.

Fresh snow: 10-12 in. of new snow is equal to one in. of water, or about 5 lbs per square foot of roof space, so you could have up to 4 ft. of new snow before the roof will become stressed.
Packed snow: 3-5 in. of old snow is equal to one inch of water, or about 5 lbs per square foot of roof space, so anything more than 2 ft. of old snow could be too much for your roof to handle.
Total accumulated weight: two ft. of old snow and two ft. of new snow could weigh as much as 60 lbs per square foot of roof space, which is beyond the typical snow load capacity of most roofs.
Ice: one in. of ice equals one ft. of fresh snow.


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