However, an increased amount of concerned phone calls to those departments prompted those officials to issue a news release Thursday answering residents' roof questions.
According to Anchorage Emergency Management spokesperson Dawn Brantley, local building code requires roofs to bear a safe and allowable snow load of at least 40 pounds per square foot in the Anchorage Bowl. There is no minimum snow-load requirement for roofs, however, in outlying areas like Girdwood and Eagle River.
Brantley says there isn't an easy way to measure roof snow depths, but stressed that fresh snow is less of a concern than the older snow beneath it, which tends to be wetter and heavier.
To ease concerns, city officials have issued risk factors they say increase the roof collapse risk, including:
- Depth of snow
- The character of the accumulated snow
- The density of the snow
- Whether there has been any recent rain
- Age and design of the structure
- Visibly sagging beams
- Signs of structural distress in the framing
The city stresses that homeowners planning to clear their own roofs proceed with caution. In addition to the risk of falling off, you can cause the snow to slide dangerously or increase your heart-attack risk.
When clearing roof snow, the major goal should be to simply get rid of excess snow. That means not shoveling all the way down to the shingles, and leaving at least a foot of snow to help walking and roof protection.
For more information, call the city's Building Safety Department at 343-8211 and choose option 4 when prompted.
Email Matthew Simon