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EXACTLY HOW HEAVY IS SNOW?

During the winter the roof of a building in upstate New York collapsed. Several small shops, offices, and a restaurant were located in the building. All of the businesses sustained extensive damage to their equipment and inventory, and had to either close down or find other locations to conduct their business. A class-action suit was brought against the owner of the building, with the claim being that the roof, which was flat, was not constructed properly, and thus could not hold up under the weight of the snow and ice which accumulated on it.

The attorneys working on behalf of the insurance carrier which wrote the policy for the building owner contacted COMPUWEATHER. A comprehensive report was prepared which detailed the amount of snow and ice which had occurred from the start of the winter season, up through the day that the roof collapsed. The report also included the daily temperature profile in order to establish how much frozen precipitation was likely to have been on the rooftop on the day of the collapse. The meteorologist assigned to the case outlined each melt/re-freeze cycle which occurred in the weeks prior to the accident. He also took into account the moisture content of each of the snow events which had taken place, since that information would be critical in determining the weight of the snow. Using mathematical equations which take all of this information into account, the final analysis showed that the roof collapsed under the weight of snow, ice and slush which added up to 45 pounds per square foot. This figure was nearly 20 pounds per square foot more than what local building codes required at the time that the roof was put on the building many years earlier.

In light of the evidence brought forth in the report from COMPUWEATHER, it was deemed that the owner of the building was not liable for damages and loss of business which resulted from the roof collapse.