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Take action: excessive snow on top of structures

920 Lafayette Road Seabrook NH. Heavy snow caused the roof to collapse Sunday Morning
Photo by Paula Wood

A note from our building inspector, Stefan Zalewski:

We have a very serious problem in town with snow.  We have had a tremendous amount of snow (by Seabrook standards) in a short amount of time.  The very cold temperatures have prevented little if any melt to occur.  The fierce winds that we have experienced have drifted snow onto the leeward areas of most roofs.  Roof valleys, areas where roof heights change, and parapets are particularly vulnerable to being filled with drifting snow.  It appears that the Northerly and Northeasterly winds associated with these storms are creating leeward areas on the south sides of roofs.  It will appear that a roof has little if any snow on it until you look at the opposite side.  It is deceiving.

The accumulation of snow in these leeward areas is causing some very critical situations.  The blowing snow is being packed into these areas, causing heavy, dense loading.  Many, many roofs are not going to tolerate this excessive loading.  These loads also put an unbalanced stress on roof systems.

My concern with roofs in Seabrook is that most roofs are standing as of today, but moving into slightly warmer weather, the snowfall will be denser.  Snow so far has been relatively light in mass.  The heavier wetter snows that will come will most likely “break the camel’s back”.  Clearing snow from roofs now will be relatively easy.  Later it will be harder.