November 2003

Snow damage remediation

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An NRCA contractor member learns some business lessons from Mother Nature

by Conrad A. Kawulok
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Author's disclaimer: This article is presented in an effort to help other professional roofing companies approach snowstorms with the benefit of one company's experiences. My employees and I are not registered engineers, and the references to specific values simply are cowboy engineering.

From March 18-19, the Denver metro area received a record heavy, wet snowfall. Depending on the location, snowfall depth reports from 32 inches to 46 inches (813 mm to 1168 mm) along Colorado's Front Range and 50 inches to 88 inches (1270 mm to 2235 mm) in the immediate foothills were sustained. The Denver metro area population of about 2.5 million people struggled to dig itself out following what was called the worst storm since 1913. The storm was so severe that highways could not be cleared and schools, government offices and most private enterprises were shut down for two days to three days as the snow put its grip on virtually everything. Damage estimates for this storm have exceeded $34 million.

Concerns about building collapse because of the overweight snow conditions causing severe roof deflections on low-slope roof structures required an immediate response. Following is an account of what my company, B & M Roofing of Colorado Inc., Boulder, experienced during the process. It is provided as a reference for roofing professionals and formatted to serve as a checklist outlining the protocol my firm developed. The information, observations and conclusions are based on our response to about 25 structures involving more than 2 million square feet (371600 m²) of roof surface area.

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