Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Preparing for the Snow Melt

The approaching rains and warmer temperatures, expected to last through the weekend, will bring their own problems, especially wherever melting snow and ice cannot flow quickly into storm drains. It's likely to bring some street ponding as storm sewer openings are plugged up with snow and ice.

Citizens are encouraged to clear storm drains in their neighborhoods to minimize local flooding problems from the run-off. Residents are asked to clear any blocked storm drains they see so the rain and melt water have somewhere to go.

“Ice dams” may have formed in roof gutters and down spouts, causing water to back up through roofs and seep into homes and commercial buildings, causing damage that necessitates costly repairs. If it’s not cleared off roofs, snow acts as a sponge, absorbing any additional sleet and rain, adding stress to structures. Flat, commercial roofs are most susceptible if they are not draining properly.

We are offering the following suggestions to minimize the risk of overstressing a building roof due to accumulated or drifting snow:
  • Be on the alert for large accumulating snow build-up or snowdrifts on your roof.
  • If roof snow can be removed, do so with caution. Use plastic shovels or brooms rather than metal shovels. Try to avoid working from ladders as ladder rungs tend to ice up. Flat roofs can be shoveled clear, but only if it is determined that the roof is safe to stand upon. Exercise care when on the roof to avoid potentially dangerous falls.
  • Flat roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize the risk of excess roof ponding in the event of subsequent heavy rainfall or melting.
  • Large icicles can form on roof overhangs, but do not necessarily mean that ice damming is occurring. Icicles overhanging doorways and walkways can be dangerous and should be carefully removed.

All of the mentioned actions should only be performed by able-bodied adults since the snow is heavy and roofs and other surfaces may be slippery. Protective headgear and eye protection are recommended.

Thanks to our response partners in Washington County for providing this guidance!

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