State officials in Vermont are warning farmers to clear barn roofs of snow to guard against collapses.
The warnings follow last year’s tough winter for such incidents. Some 30 inches of snow fell on Vermont Feb. 14, collapsing nearly 20 barn roofs and killing between 75 and 100 animals.
The state Agency of Agriculture says typical barns are built to take a roof load of 30 to 40 pounds per square foot, but that includes the weight of framing, trusses, rafters and ceiling.
Snow on roofs can weaken the structure, particularly if it is allowed to sit for extended periods of time.
Deputy Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said it’s important to keep safety in mind when clearing roofs.
“When clearing snow from a roof, work to ensure an even unloading from both sides at a time,” he said in a statement. “Always work in pairs and use a safety line when clearing steep pitched roofs.
“Try to plan an escape route before you begin and keep safety the first priority,” Tebbetts added. “The center of the rafters and the center of the building are the weak points.”
He said it is a good idea to keep 4-by-4 or 6-by-6 poles on hand to shore up the roof by placing it under every fourth rafter, along the center of the roof line.
Sunday’s storm, which was forecast to dump more than a foot of snow on many parts of Vermont, followed more than a foot of snow that had fallen during the first two weeks of December in many parts of the state.
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