Heavy Snowloads Are Collapsing Chicago-Area Roofs

This year’s especially snowy winter is weighing on Chicagoans’ hearts, spirits and shoulders. But most of all, it’s weighing on their roofs.

At least eight buildings in the area have given way under the foot-plus of snow that has accumulated in recent days.

The latest victims were a suburban horse training arena whose roof collapsed early Tuesday morning, though no people or animals were hurt, and three vacant buildings on Chicago’s South Side.

To an extent, it’s nothing but physics at work: Roofs are designed to handle a certain amount of weight, and if the snow grows too thick — it generally weighs about 20 pounds per cubic foot — something’s going to give.

But experts said plenty of other factors are usually at work, from the age and upkeep of the structure to the design of the roof itself.

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