BEND, Ore. - There's a big difference between the snow that's falling now and the stuff we've been seeing earlier this winter. This snow is much heavier than the usual light and dry snow Central Oregon is accustomed to -- and that poses a danger.
Why the change? It's because the system passing over us is particularly wet. It's coming off the coast of Northern California up through the Cascades, bringing huge amounts of Pacific Ocean moisture with it. When it falls as snow, it's waterlogged and heavy.
As far as what this means for roofs, letting enough of it accumulate runs the risk of all the snow simply getting too heavy.
There are dozens of local Craigslist postings offering snow removal off roofs, but many of them are not licensed and bonded. If you have no other choice, make sure to instruct them properly.
"If it's not a roofer that's removing the snow, the best thing to tell them is to leave a little snow (and) leave a little bit of ice," River Roofing owner Craig Junker explained Tuesday. "Don't take it down to the roof -- you don't need to. Just remove the weight, leave a little bit of surface left. That way they're not scraping the roof with metal edges and things that they shouldn't be using. And that way, you don't damage the roof."
That's if you decide the risk necessitates action before the snow melts.
"I've called all these agencies, the snow removal people," Bend resident Gene Lewis said. "And they'll do it for a large amount of money, and that puts you in a predicament. Do you want to pay them, or do you want to wait until Mother Nature takes over?"
But most of these companies that remove snow from roofs have backlogs, some up to five weeks. At that point, you might want to go the amateur route. But buyer beware.
"I'm sure all those folks are just trying to help," Junker said. "But if they're not licensed and bonded, if somebody slips off your roof and gets injured, then you're going to be held liable. And it leaves everybody in a really awkward and difficult situation."
The city of Bend says structures built after 1970 with building permits are designed to handle about 20 inches of snow.
To spot a roof in need of clearing, look for: popping, cracking and creaking noises; sagging roof members; doors or windows that have trouble opening and closing; and excessive accumulation of water at non-drainage locations on low slope roofs.