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Towns Dig Out Roads and Roofs

20130211_151156As Storm Nemo (or Charlotte or Snowpocalypse or Carlos or whatever you called the 30″ snowfall) covered the Northeast in a blanket of fluffy precipitation, thoughts turned from awe to wonder to dismay to despair.  Where was all that snow going to go?  The answer…

Nowhere.

And that is the problem that many if not all towns in Connecticut are currently facing–where to put the snow; how to increase road-width; how to uncover sidewalks; and how to clear parking lots.  But that does not mean those towns are not trying.

Seymour First Selectman, W. Kurt Miller, has been keeping his constituents updated on his town’s progress through his office’s Facebook page. While the page just updated that Seymour school’s will be closed again on Wednesday, he also points out how hard the town is working to dig out.

“Public Works crews along with several outside contractors have made tremendous progress [Monday],” stated Miller. “While we have not opened every street yet, I expect that by tomorrow morning we should be very close.”

Prospect Mayor Bob Chatfield echoed the same sentiment on mycitizensnews.com.  The CN noted that “all of the roads in Beacon Falls and Prospect are open, according to Chatfield and Beacon Falls First Selectman Gerard Smith, though many are limited to one lane.”

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Payloader crosses Main Street, Beacon Falls to dump more snow into the Naugatuck river.

And while Region 16 has not yet made a decision on Wednesday, the situation is a familiar one. Payloaders were out in force on Main Street, Beacon Falls trying to widen the street to more than one lane by dumping bucket after bucket of snow on the river side of the street.

And the dig out continued on Woodland’s hill, where Dave Langdon, Regional School district 16 Facilities Manager, worked continuously to clear the parking lots.

While the chore was daunting, Langdon noted that it would be even worse if the region’s facilities crew did not get a helping hand by a payloader Monday morning.  He also noted that a Bobcat (a compact tractor with a bucket) was scheduled to work the evening clearing sidewalks which were buried beneath eight-foot tall snow piles.

But the parking lots were only one concern.  Langdon commented that after the parking lot, he still had to be careful with the flat portion of the school’s roof, primarily the roof above the locker room.  Snow left on rooftops can cause water damage and weaken structural integrity, and last night’s rain only served to make matters worse.

Flat roofs in Connecticut are required to have a snow load of 30 psf (pounds per square foot). Factor in the increase in weight with additional rain and the compacted snow as it freezes and the weight increases. A quick calculation based on:

Calculation: S x 1.25 = P   where:

  • S = Inches of snow on the roof (depth)
  • 1.25 = Weight of 1 sq ft of snow for each 1-inch of depth
  • P = Pounds per square foot (lbs/sq ft)

Using rough guesstimates that calculation would yield a rough estimate:

30″ of snowfall  *1.25lbs per inch = 37.5 psf’

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Currently flat roof loads in many areas of  CT may be over the required load as outlined in state building code (IBC Section 1608.3).  And that’s considering the formula using fresh snow. Compacted snow can weigh considerably more, and ice even more. The weight of a square foot of ice can weigh as much as 5.2 lbs, according to the National Agricultural Safety Database.

Every day as the snow melts and then refreezes the weight on flat roofs increases.  So, while everyone worries about the “wait for snow removal” in the streets, facilities managers around the state are worrying about the weight of the snow on their roofs.

Clean up in the state will continue today–and for days after–and many school systems have already canceled school for Wednesday in the hope that roofs and roads can be cleared up before sending all their students on vacation for February break.

 

Sources

———————————————-

  • http://www.ct-sec.org/html/ctbuilding_code.html
  • http://www.matweb.com/tools/unitconverter.aspx
  • http://www.countytimes.com/articles/2013/02/08/news/doc5115223e09987264931313.txt
  • https://hamlethub.com/danbury-life/cat/history/27027-nemo-or-charlotte-what-s-the-name-of-the-blizzard
  • http://building.cdaid.org/images/Handouts/Shovel%20Roof%20Snow.pdf

 

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