Weekend Snow Could Bring More Roof Collapses

By Jess Bidgood

Feb. 4, 2011

BOSTON — As snow and ice pile onto the region, towns and cities are dealing with an influx of a once-rare winter problem: Roof collapses.

By Friday afternoon, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Emergency Association (MEMA) reported almost 100 collapses of roofs and other structures resulting from snow buildup piled on by this week's two-day storm. 
Now, Judge and other officials are warning that it could get worse, with another six inches of snow predicted this weekend.

Most years, MEMA reports four or five collapses at most. "This is just off the charts as far as anything close to normal for Massachusetts," said MEMA's Peter Judge.

But this winter is putting undue pressure on roofs. "We never had that January thaw which we usually get which melts some of the snow down," Judge said. That means that, if you go up to a roof, "You're going to find that original snow up there from the December storm."

And for those 90-some roofs, this week's two-day storm was just too much. "It's just the accumulated weight, the second day, areas that received the freezing rain or sleet, that was the straw that broke the camel's back."

Amazingly, no serious injuries have been reported, which Judge marks up to luck and a growing public awareness of roof collapses.

Judge said emergency officials believe this weekend's storm could drop more rain or sleet, further weighing down roofs.

So what's a flat-roofed homeowner to do? Don't get up on the roof, Judge said. He recommends owners use roof rakes to remove some weight -- or call in professionals.

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