The winter season is upon us with the unpredictable weather to follow. Only Mother Nature can control the severity and quantity of winter storms that will hit this season.

Heavy snow, as well as repeated snow storms, can create snow intensities in excess of 50 PSF. An excessive accumulation of snow may cause a building to be loaded beyond its design capacity, creating a risk of building damage or complete failure.

Additional snow loads resulting from snow drifting can occur at differential roof elevations, closely spaced higher adjacent buildings, valley locations, behind parapets, next to roof top units, and below eave canopies and overhangs.

Building owners should seriously consider possible consequences of snow build-up on roofs. At the very least, the owner should keep drains and gutters clear of snow and ice to permit proper drainage. Owners should also be aware of the warnings signs on the interior of the building, which indicate excessive snow accumulation on the roof. These warning signs include deflection of roof members, popping of ceiling tiles in suspended ceilings, and unusual noises.

As design professionals, as a minimum standard, we conform with applicable building codes to determine roof snow loads for a specific project site. As a minimum, the flat roof snow load should not be less than 30 PSF for projects in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Additional loads due to drifting should be calculated in accordance with the applicable building code.

We enjoy our work with the architectural community, and appreciate your consideration. Should you wish to discuss the need for structural engineering services on your projects, please call at 570-823-9935. Thank You.

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