February 4, 2014 - Office of Risk Management Risk Alert No. 2014-02, RE: Winter Storm Warning in Effect*

Office of Risk Management Risk Alert No. 2014-02, RE: Winter Storm Warning in Effect, February 4, 2014

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm warning for Wednesday, February 5, from midnight until 6:00 pm.  Location: Southern New Hampshire, most of Massachusetts, Northern Connecticut, Rhode Island.  Accumulations: Snow accumulation of 8-12 inches with isolated amounts of 14 inches possible.  Impacts: Difficult travel conditions and reduced visibilities due to snow and snow-covered roads, especially for the Wednesday morning commute. Visibility may drop down to one-quarter mile or less at times. Winds will be out of the Northeast at around 10 to 15 MPH with gusts up to 25 MPH. Temperatures will be in the mid-20s. The storm is not expected to create coastal flooding.

Roof Safety

An additional snowstorm is forecast for this weekend and may add to the accumulation. If not cleared off, snow accumulations will add weight and stress to structures and contribute to leaky roofs once the snow begins to thaw. Flat commercial roofs are most susceptible if they are not draining properly. Maintenance personnel should clear storm drains to minimize local flooding problems from this run-off. In many cases, roof ice dams can form, causing water build-up leading to interior damage. To minimize the risk of over-stressing a building roof due to accumulated or drifting snow, please take into consideration the following tips:

  • If roof snow can be removed from the ground with the use of a snow rake (available at most hardware stores), do so. Use caution, as metal snow rakes conduct electricity if they come into contact with a power line.
  • Try to avoid working from ladders, as ladder rungs tend to ice up. Snow and ice collect on boot soles and metal ladders.
  • Flat roofs can be shoveled clear, but only if it is determined that the roof is safe to stand upon. Exercise care when on the roof to avoid potentially dangerous falls.
  • Flat roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize the risk of excess roof ponding in the event of subsequent heavy rainfall or melting.
  • Large icicles can form on roof overhangs, but do not necessarily mean ice damming is occurring. Icicles overhanging doorways and walkways can be dangerous and should be carefully removed.
  • Because snow is heavy and roofs and other surfaces may be slippery, all of the abovementioned actions should only be performed by able-bodied adults. Protective headgear and eye protection is recommended.

Power Outages

  • When snow is wet and heavy, there is always a potential for downed power lines. Be prepared.
  • Have an emergency kit, flashlights and battery-operated radio ready and accessible. Fully charge your cell phone, other electronic devices, and rechargeable batteries.
  • Disconnect appliances and other electrical items that will automatically go on when service is restored. Power surges can cause significant mechanical damage.
  • If you have a telephone system that requires electricity, such as a cordless phone or answering machine, plan for alternate communication. Have a standard telephone handset or fully-charged cell phone as a back up.
  • Fill a bathtub or other large basin with water if you are on a well and a heavy storm is predicted. The water can be used for washing or flushing toilets.

During a Power Outage

  • If you have a refrigerator/freezer on premises, try not to open the doors. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold enough for a few hours. A freezer that is half full will hold for up to 24 hours; a full freezer will hold for 48 hours.
  • Try not to use candles, but if you do use them, please use extra caution.
  • If your heat goes out during a storm, close the door of rooms you do not need and dress in layers. If you need to use an alternate heating source such as a kerosene heater, fireplace or wood stove, be sure to have adequate ventilation to the outside. Without ventilation, carbon monoxide fumes can build up in your home and cause sickness or death. Never use a natural gas or propane stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Disconnect appliances, equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. Power surges can damage equipment such as computers, and motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or heating system, when power comes back on.
  • If the outage is prolonged and the weather is cold, open faucets to a steady drip so pipes do not freeze.

In the Event of Injury or Damage

If you need immediate assistance with a claim, please call Kent Wilkins at 617-746-5743, or contact a disaster restoration specialist. For recommended specialists, please see our website: