Weight from last week’s heavy snow is being blamed for the collapse of a roof on a suburban Kansas City dance studio last Friday morning. Could the same sort of problem be seen in Hannibal where almost 10 inches of snow fell last week and another 10 is forecast to fall Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service?
Joey Burnham, city building inspector, admitted he’s “keeping my fingers crossed” that no problems arise.
While some roofs are still covered with snow, that’s not what concerns Burnham most.
“I’m actually more concerned about what’s coming, if it’s for real,” he said. “The stuff we had (last Thursday) was pretty light weight, even though it was a lot. I think when it starts melting off it will get out of here pretty quick, but if we really get 12 more inches of wet snow, that’s going to be another story. I just hope everything is OK for this next round. In fact, I hope it doesn’t even come here.”
What buildings are most at risk of having problems?
“I think mostly just the older ones,” said Burnham. “The new stuff is built a little heavier than some of the old ones, and we have some of older roofs that are not in the best shape to start with that may not be able to handle a big load like that if we get the wet snow they’re saying.”
Residential structures are what has Burnham most concerned.
“Most commercial buildings are built heavy enough we don’t have to worry about it,” he said. “I can’t remember having a (snow-caused roof) problem with any commercial buildings in the 12 ½ years I’ve been here.”
Even more susceptible to roof failure are porches and garages because they are not built with the same supports that houses are, according to Burnham.
In February 2011, after 22 inches of snow fell, a canopy at a gas station collapsed in Quincy, Ill.
Farther north it’s not uncommon to find people not only shoving off their sidewalks after a big snow, but their roof. Burnham stopped short of making such a recommendation.
“It’s all up to the homeowners. If they feel safe getting up and getting some of it off, that’s fine. But if you don’t I wouldn’t touch it,” he said.