Collapse Concerns Grow as Snowstorm Slams Eastern States

February 8, 2010

Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. were particularly battered by a weekend snowstorm that caused massive power outages and resulted in moderate structural damage to areas in the region.

At least two deaths were reported, and now the insurance industry is keeping a close eye on risks posed by the weight of accumulated snowfall on buildings, which poses serious risks for property damage and other liability, according to Risk Management Solutions.

Numerous buildings around the region have already collapsed under the weight of heavy, wet snow built up on roofs.

In D.C., fire officials reported at least a half dozen collapses around the city, including a small church that collapsed after a tree fell on its roof. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said a hangar roof collapsed at the Dulles Jet Center on Saturday, but the extent of the damage to four private jets inside isn’t yet known.

In Maryland, a roof collapse destroyed six classrooms, a computer lab, library and offices at one parochial school. A storage warehouse in California, Md. also collapsed.

In total, more than 24 inches of snow fell in Washington D.C. over the weekend, one of the heaviest snowfalls recorded in decades. The two-feet of snow came less than two months after heavy snowfall in December. In Maryland, record snowfall of 36 inches was recorded from the weekend storms. West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have also been badly affected by the snow storms with over 30 inches of snow recorded in parts of northern and western Virginia and accumulations varying from 6 inches to 30 inches in Pennsylvania.

Power outages are another concern. Strong winds have downed trees and power lines resulting in power supplies being cut to at least 300,000 homes in Washington D.C., and another 300,000 in Maryland and Virginia. It has been reported that 250,000 homes in neighboring states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey were also affected by power outages.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report

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