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Snow load and flood worries as forecast includes snow then rain

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

The snow keeps falling, but later this week it turns to rain causing county residents and officials to worry about what that means. Snow loads on roofs and the potential for flooding are two concerns, with the latter seeming of greatest concern for now.

Those who have been around for awhile harken back to 1993 when some people began shoveling their house roofs, and crews went to work on the flat top roofs of Quincy High School and the Safeway shopping center. Back then there was about 5 feet on rooftops in Quincy. Then there was the flood of 1996-97, when heavy snow was followed by several days of rain that led to flooding throughout the county.

What will March 2023 be remembered as? Plumas County Building Official Chuck White said that will be determined by the amount of rain received and the daily and nightly temperatures.

Snow loads

“The good thing is that the snow has been extremely light,” White said of the snow that had fallen in Plumas County as of Monday morning, March 6. But what happens when rains fall on the snow? White said that if the bulk of the 24-hour day remains above freezing, it will help to melt the snow, but if there are cycles of hard freezes then that will make the snow extremely heavy because ice builds up. It’s too early to tell what will occur.

For structures built after 1970, with building permits and that have not been altered structurally, White said residents should feel comfortable. But he advises them to check with a contractor if they want specific information for their structure.

The building department also provides a great deal of information on its website (see information below) that can help people decide if, and when, they should remove snow from their roofs. But that is not without its own risks, and residents run the danger of causing damage if it’s not done correctly. For example, White said it’s important for snow to be removed slowly and across the roof so it doesn’t result in unbalanced loading. Local contractor Mike Beatty said that roofs can be easily damaged if the work is done incorrectly and he witnessed that back in 1993.

Building Official White also cautioned resident to ensure that anyone removing snow from a roof is licensed/insured because it can be dangerous work.

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Potential flooding

County Administrative Officer Debra Lucero is organizing a meeting emergency responders and county officials to address potential flooding issues and what can be done in advance. More information will be shared as it becomes available, but it’s likely that sandbags will be available throughout the county as has been the practice in the past.

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