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Roof Collapse Chaos in Connecticut

Depending on the actual water content in snow, the snow can weight about 6 pounds per square foot at a depth of 12 inches.

The weight of the snow will then equal about 600 pounds for every 10×10 foot area of 1 foot deep snow.

The weight of 2 feet of snow on a 80×40 foot roof could be an incredible 38,400 pounds!
That’s 19 Tons!

Typical weight of 1 foot of snow on a roof
30 x 40, 7,000 pounds
40 x 40, 10,000 pounds
60 x 40, 14,000 pounds
80 x 40, 19,000 pounds

Typical weight of 2 feet of snow on a roof
30 x 40, 14,000 pounds
40 x 40, 20,000 pounds
60 x 40, 28,000 pounds
80 x 40, 38,000 pounds


Allowing several feet to accumulate on the roof of a building, can quickly stress the roof to it’s breaking point.

This is exactly what is happening on snow burdened roof’s throughout the northeast U.S., particularly in Connecticut which has suffered tremendous snowfall so far this winter season.

Roof Collapse Events in Connecticut

Bethany, CT, Roof Collapse at Fairfield County Millworks

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Chesire, CT, Roof Collapse at Cox Communication

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Enfield, CT, Roof Collapse, the top of a warehouse building caved in

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Hartford, CT, Roof Collapse of garage leads to demolition

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Manchester, CT, Roof Collapse at Lou’s Auto Sales

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Meriden, CT, Roof Collapse at Jacoby’s Restaurant

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Middletown, CT, Roof Collapse of the entire length on the Passport Inn building

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Middletown, CT, Roof Collapse tears off 3rd floor of downtown building

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Milford, CT, Roof Collapse at manufacturing building

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Naugatuck, CT, Roof Collapse at warehouse

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Naugatuck, CT, Roof Collapse at Thurston Energy

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Norwalk, CT, Roof Collapse of horse arena – stable

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Somers, CT, Roof Collapse of barn

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South Windsor, CT, Roof Collapse of bowling alley

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Stafford Springs, CT, Roof Collapse of mill building

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Trumbull, CT, Roof Collapse of a tennis club

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Trumbull, CT, Roof Collapse at Taco Bell

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Vernon, CT, Roof Collapse of car dealership building

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Waterbury, CT, Roof Collapse of Duckpin Bowling

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The Survival Preparedness lesson here is to somehow get your roof shoveled, particularly on lesser sloped roofs. It’s easier said than done, but there is such a thing as a specially designed roof shovel, or roof rake, that have long telescoping handles to enable reaching up onto the roof allowing you to pull down on the snow, sliding it off.

Flat roofs however, require someone going up there and shoveling. A dangerous assignment. There are reports of people having fallen from their roofs in Connecticut while shoveling the snow, mostly suffering from broken bones.


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4 Comments

  1. I live in a cabin in the mountains and I have shoveled my roof with 5 1/2 feet of snow on it. It took me and my wife three days to finish. I can also tell you that because of the insulation effects of the snow that the lower portion of the snow is soaked with water as the heat from within melts some of the snow and thus a shovel full of 6″ snow near the roof can weigh 50 lbs or so. Anytime a roof fails because of snow or rain it is a failure in engineering or a failure by the contractor to follow the engineered plans. Make no mistake these roofs should have been able to hold that snowload, someone goofed.

  2. Not quite sure of the building regs and standards in the USA, but here the codes are pretty strict on designing for the wind and snow loading on buildings. I heard there was a hell of a lot of snow, possibly the snow loading was greater than the design requirements required at the time they were built, which means the builder or the engineer is not necessarly at fault. (Im a structural engineer in the UK)

  3. No intent to unfairly fault the engineers but I lived in the area in question for many years and I am 67. Heavy snow and deep long colds spells were common many years ago but in the last 30 years the cycle turned to less severe weather. So, could the codes have been rewritten with the milder weather in mind? Certainly. But regardless of who made the mistake a mistake was made. Most historians recognize that the 20th century was one of moderation and not just in weather. It is likely that will end and the weather will regress to the mean. So if the codes were weakened or inspections were less rigorous this should be a warning. I don’t have that much trust in codes and designers/contractors. On a recent occassion a cloudburst dropped so much rain it sounded like a train on the flat roof of the big box store I was shopping in and knowing how susceptable flat roofs are to failure I exited the store in a hurry. I do not attend major or even minor sports events that are overcrowded so that I’m not in the stands when they collapse. When I cross some of the very old bridges near where I live I keep an extra long distance between me and the cars in front to reduce the loading. Certainly most risks involving man made structures cannot be avoided but some can. Just 15 miles from my home the city built a major public building with offices and courts and a large bus depot 10 years ago and now it is closed because of doubts about the quality of construction. How could that happen? Union workers, licensed engineers, trained city and county inspectors and the building is now declared unsafe!!

  4. roof collapse can be prevented when building owners and occupants pay attention to the “sag” caused by the accumulating snow loads. The usual warning signs of sticking doors and hanging light fixtures, etc are telling people the building is already at a critical point – many times the roof trusses have already broken.

    Measuring roof joist deflection is the way to go. Long before the problem becomes an emergency, roof deflection can identify areas that need to be cleared.

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