How heavy is snow?

Yesterday we talked about the fact that typically one cubic foot of snow weighs about twenty pounds.  Yesterday’s photograph showed you a gentleman up on his roof shoveling off what we estimated to be two feet of snow.  Or, each square foot of snow weighed about forty pounds.  Each square foot of snow then had a total weight of an estimated 60,000 pounds of snow on a 46’ Ranch House.

Look at today’s picture.  This young man is shoveling what looks like one foot of snow off his roof.

Simple logic tells us that today’s picture shows you snow that weighs much less because there is less snow.  Right?  Well………………, not so fast because there is a very dangerous additional scenario.

As winter draws to a close it is common for us to have a snow storm followed by rain.  Let’s pretend that there’s a foot of snow up there on the roof.  Then the same day or the next it starts to rain.  The snow will act like a huge sponge and absorb most of the rain causing it to weigh a lot more!

So, it is very possible that the one foot of snow in today’s picture can weigh much more than the two feet of snow in yesterday’s picture.

Unfortunately, barns and some older homes will collapse under the sheer weight of the snow on the roof.  This typically happens towards the end of winter when snow storms are followed by rain.

Every Modular Home has a roof that is thoroughly engineered with its snow load calculated carefully for a specific location.  Snow loads can vary from one part of town to another; especially in mountainous municipalities such as areas in The Northeast Kingdom.  Last week we visited a job-site in Stratton Vermont; that town has huge altitude variations within their town.  And, the specific location of a house either puts it in a heavy snow area or one that is light. 

Do you think a typical local Stick-Builder calculates the snow load of the roof?

Share this post