How to avoid roof collapses caused by heavy snow

Associated Press
Jackie Humphreys uses a snow rake to lessen the load the roof of her home, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 in Holyoke, Mass. A howling storm across the Northeast left the New York-to-Boston corridor shrouded in 1 to 3 feet of snow Saturday, stranding motorists on highways overnight and piling up drifts so high that some homeowners couldn't get their doors open. More than 650,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity. (AP Photo/The Republican, John Suchocki)
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Jackie Humphreys uses a snow rake to lessen the load the roof of her home, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 in Holyoke, Mass. A howling storm across the Northeast left the New York-to-Boston corridor shrouded in 1 to 3 feet of snow Saturday, stranding motorists on highways overnight and piling up drifts so high that some homeowners couldn't get their doors open. More than 650,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity. (AP Photo/The Republican, John Suchocki)

On the heels of a massive snowstorm that dumped up to 3 feet of snow across the Northeast, rain was forecast for Monday, which could threaten snow-laden roofs with added weight. The roof of an empty bowling alley on New York's Long Island already partly collapsed just from heavy snow from the weekend storm, police said.

What to do to stave off a roof collapse:

THE RISK: The snow that accumulated over the weekend will act as a sponge, soaking up extremely heavy rain and threatening roofs with collapse. Roofs that are at most risk of being burdened by wet snow are flat or slightly pitched, said Peter Judge, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

WHAT TO DO: Try to remove weight ahead of Monday's rain and do so safely, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said. Use roof rakes to safely pull off snow, Judge said. If you have to climb a ladder, first make sure the ladder is placed in a safe area away from ice. Wear boots to avoid slipping.

WHAT TO AVOID: Stay off the roof itself, Judge advised. "We don't recommend that people, unless they're young and experienced, to go up on roofs," he said.

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