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Snow loads moderate on most county roofs, even with rain

January 12, 2022

Retired architect and residential designer Don Jordan measured the weight of snow in a couple places about miles south of Bonners Ferry and one place about five miles north of town on January 8, and determined that snow loads are not posing significant danger to most county residences. He determined that the average snow depth was 26 inches and weight was 22 to 25 pounds per square foot.

"This is a moderate snow load for most structures," he said. "Modern structures should be built to handle at least 60 pounds per square foot and older structures and most outbuildings should handle at least 40 pounds per square foot."

If a building has been around for 50 years, it likely has endured over a snow load over 40 pounds per square foot. However, some of the older homes had less insulation and heat loss kept the snow load down. Metal roofs slid off high snow loads.

If these older structures are upgraded with good insulation, or the metal roof is replaced with shingles, there may be concern about how much snow load they can handle.

"In summary, current snow loads are moderate, but winter is not over yet!" Don said. "The dry snow layer we had at the bottom when I took the measurements made snow shoveling easier at this time, but we've since had rain. A quarter-inch of rainfall on top of the snow makes for heavy shoveling because it compacts the snow, but it only adds a pound and a quarter of actual weight per square foot."

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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