So Much Snow, Roofs Collapsing in Northeast



Snowfall records are being challenged and some are being smashed during this 2011 winter season in many parts of the U.S.

The following NOAA snow depth map illustrates the magnitude of the snow depth across much of the northern portion of the U.S., particularly in the northeast where the snow continues to accumulates.


The latest January 26-27 snowstorm produced snowfall rates as steep as 5 inches per hour and dropped up to another foot and a half of fresh snow on top of what was already there.


Roof Collapse

In fact, so much snow has fallen, and so little has melted off, that roofs are beginning to collapse all across the northeast.

Early on January 27, the roof of a garage building collapsed in Lynn, Massachusetts under 3 feet of accumulated snow, weighing tons, trapping several people inside.


The roof of a warehouse collapsed in Bridgewater, Massachusetts when this most recent storm dumped 8 inches of additional snow, and was the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’.


Other roof collapse failures were also being reported in Connecticut.

Waterbury, CT, Roof Collapse of Duckpin Bowling


Trumbull, CT, Roof Collapse of a tennis club


Trumbull, CT, Roof Collapse at Taco Bell


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


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


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


Vernon, CT, Roof Collapse of car dealership building


Hartford, CT, Roof Collapse of garage leads to demolition


Somers, CT, Roof Collapse of barn


Norwalk, CT, Roof Collapse of horse arena – stable


Meriden, CT, Roof Collapse at Jacoby’s Restaurant


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


Naugatuck, CT, Roof Collapse at warehouse


Buildings with flat roofs are under the greatest danger of collapse due to snow load. Since there have been only a few episodes of significant natural melting, the buildup of snow with its water content, can amount to about 6 pounds per square foot of 12 inch deep snow (depending on water content) – which translates to 600 pounds per every 10×10 foot area. Allowing several feet to accumulate can quickly stress roofs to their breaking point.

This most recent snowstorm has broken records including a record January total of 36 inches in New York City, making it the snowiest January on record, beating the old record set in 1925 (27.4 inches).

NYC is up to 56 inches this season so far, and could potentially break the all time record set in 1995-96 when 75.6 inches of snow fell.

Boston so far has received about 40 inches of snow, just during this month of January alone.

New January snow records have also been set in Newark, N.J. and Bridgeport, CT.

With February still to come, this winter is shaping up to be a memorable one.

What does this report have to do with ‘modern survival’, the underlying theme of this blog?
Well, I found the snow-load weight on roofs to be something that most probably do not think about. Unless you live in areas where this amount of snow is somewhat typical, it may catch many off guard as the winter continues. Unless periods of significant melting occur between snow storms, it will be a factor in the weeks ahead.

Apart from that, all the normal preparedness plans apply… ready for power outages, ready to stay warm, enough food at home, vehicle car kits with food-water-supplies, and extra gasoline in the garage for the snow-blower!

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  1. I grew up in the city where this roof collapses in the 40’s and 50’s. I can remember getting two blizzards in the same week with a total of 5 feet of snow on the ground about 1949. Two foot snowfalls from a single storm were common. I can only assume that a few years of lighter then normal snowfall has allowed the building standards to deteriorate. This roof did NOT collapse from unusual heavy snowfall it collapsed either from a construction/design failure or a building code failure. Flat roofs are problematic for heavy snow or rainfalls but they are an incredibly cheap roof for large buildings. Someone made a decision and put money before safety and this is the result.

  2. The lack of preparedness amongst my fellow condo. and apt. residents in Toronto is scary. I remember as a kid back in the 60’s we would get some real nasty winter storms that would on occassion knock down trees and power lines on our street. To be safe, we stayed in for a few days however we always had extra food in and candles etc….. (and this was in downtown Toronto).

    People are today are just too complacent.

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