What happens when a house is covered with snow to the rooftop?
We've seen all over the country how snow can bury a car and get half
way up a house. But we dig and plow and shovel and eventually spring
comes and the snow melts. But what happens in the far north, where
the snow never melts. Eventually the homes will just vanish under the
snow, and even if it's cleared away, the home will eventually be deep
in a hole under the piles of snow, and I know all too well how
drifting fills in holes. Personally I dont see how anyone could live
in a place like that, but some do.
So what do they do? Do they just keep building more levels higher on
their houses, where the original house eventually becomes a
sub-sub-sub-basement, and you have to go down 12 flights of steps to
get down there? Looking outside my door today, I got to thinking what
would happen if this snow and ice never melted and just kept piling
up..... I'd rather move south... FAR SOUTH..... There's no way in
hell that I'd move further north.
On Feb 2, 6:54 pm, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Something like that. I'm an East Coaster, so we don't usually get
snow like that, but when I was skiing at Squaw Valley the A-frame
house we were staying at was partially buried. Deep snow country
houses need strong roofs. The snow load can be a couple of hundred
pounds per square foot. The street was perfectly cleared, there was a
6' high wall of snow running along both sides of the street - like a
mini-canyon, and there were steps carved into the snow so you could
climb up to the top of the snow-pack. The house was accessed by
another set of steps carved in that brought you down to the house
entrance level, which was a couple or few feet above the actual soil
grade. Very cool.
The place was beautiful, the temperatures mild, the snow was dry. Not
at all like the wet heavy much we get around NY. Here it might start
out light and fluffy, but in short order it's a dense, heavy mess.
On 2/2/2011 6:54 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Well, actually- at the south pole, they build buildings on pilings that
are designed to be jacked up and have segments added to them. Not too
many people build permanent structures on glaciers and ice pack, which
is the only place where the problem arises. Human settlements of the
non-migratory kind stay on the warm side of the permanent snow cover
boundary. But yeah, they do have to abandon structures at times. Sorta
like in the desert.
Google "timberline lodge in snow pic". Timberline Lodge was built during
the CCC days, IIRC. It is in the shadow of Mt. Hood, Oregon. It is three
stories high, and there are some pictures around of it up to its eaves in
I lived in Stibnite, Idaho, when I was very young. My dad would take 2 x
4's and put on the insides of the windows to keep the windows from coming
in. There was a lot next door where all the kids would make ice caves, and
then the grownups got involved, and framed tunnels BEFORE it snowed so it
would be safer.
IIRC, the snow was a decent insulator, taking a lot of the wind off the
house. I went out the back door once, and slammed the screen. By the time
I hit the stairs, all the snow and ice from the roof hit me. They took me
to the hospital, and I have a lovely scar on my arm from a sharp piece of
It was cold here today, by our standards. We went to Cedar City to do
business, and it was 9 F. when we got there. By four in the afternoon, it
was 12 F. It is supposed to be -5 F. tonight. Can't get near our cabin.
May hire someone with a snowmobile in a couple of weeks to cart me up there.
Never been up there in the deepest snow.
Heart surgery pending?
Read up and prepare.
Learn how to care for a friend.
Download the book.
Snow is an excellent insulator. That's why natives at high latitudes
build structures from snow. That's why winter mountain climbers build
snow caves. That's why people engaging in snow sports outsides the
confines of ski resorts are urged to have the ability to build a snow
cave for emergencies.
Snow as insulation can hold temperatures inside somewhat above
freezing -- a little melting actually helps to reinforce the cave with
ice, and melting releases energy. And there's a big difference between
40F inside a snow cave and 0F outside.
Of course the wind protection is very important too.
On Wed, 02 Feb 2011 17:54:22 -0600, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Your scenario implies that the snow accumulation patterns changed
AFTER the house was built. If the snow had been accumulating like that
previously, the house would have been built on top of it. The only
exception would be ice sheets or ice caps where the melting is
occurring at the bottom of the sheet. In this case the snow is melting
-- the system is in equilibrium -- but the melting and accumulation
are occurring in different places. Building on top of ice sheets is
only done for exploratory and scientific purposes.
In practice there are very few inhabited places where the snow never
melts. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is mostly clear of snow and
ice in the summer. So are the shores of Hudson Bay and Great Slave
Lake. In places like Greenland and Ellesmere Island, which are mostly
covered by permanent ice sheets/caps, the only permanent habitation is
along the shore, which is free of ice in the summer. (According to WP,
in 2006 the population of Ellesmere Island was 146.) Of course some of
these areas are frozen below ground (permafrost), but that doesn't
accumulate over the roof.
Many very high latitude areas actually receive very little
precipitation -- they are deserts -- further reducing the
On Feb 2, 3:54 pm, email@example.com wrote:
People don't build houses, or even live (except for research
stations), where the snow never melts. There are a few research
stations built in such places and the engineering to keep the
buildings above the snow is quite involved. Build on pilings and jack
up occasionally or the other option, just abandon the building and
build another one.
I spent one winter in a quonset hut on St. Lawrence Isle. Almost a
daily task to keep an escape ramp cleared of snow so we could get out
and up on top. Hut was pretty well buried to the roof all winter.
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