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Snow Collapses Roof in Sherman

Not only has the record snowfall wreaked havoc on area roads, it also caused the roof of a warehouse at Carter Bros Lumber near Sherman to collapse.

That type of damage is why building codes include snow load ratings.

"It's 20 pounds of snow per square foot," Sangamon County Building Inspector Leonard LeVeque said. "That's what's allowed by the building code."

There's a general formula to figure out how much snow that is.

"One gallon of water is 231 cubic inches, and 144 cubic inches is a square foot," LeVeque said. "So you could go through it and do the math and it ends up being almost four feet of snow."

Any building built after 2001 in Sangamon County is required to be able to hold up that much snow.

"You have to remember that's the minimum," LeVeque said. "So most people do build above the code."

But 18.5 inches of snow, which is what Springfield got this last weekend, doesn't equal four feet.

"Snow is not always evenly distributed when it snows," LeVeque said. "Sometimes you'll have no snow on one side of the roof or area, and it'll be a large drift on the other that can exceed what the snow load actually is in that area."

That's a very familiar idea to the folks at Carter Bros. Lumber.

"It's a cantilevered building that we use to set lumber under it, so we can get to it," owner Joe Carter said. "And the snow, and the wind blowing out of the north, just overloaded the cantilever and got it up probably about to four foot, and it fell in."

But it's still surprising to see a roof collapse from snow in central Illinois.

"I don't know, I don't really get shocked too much anymore," Carter said. "It holds things up, we'll rebuild it, and in three or four weeks it'll be back like it was, or better."

We also spoke with Chris Miller from the National Weather Service in Lincoln. He said typically one foot of snow equals about one inch of water. However, this storm initially had much wetter snow than normal. It contained an inch of water in every eight inches of snow, making it much heavier than normal.

Carter said he has other buildings with the same design that held up to the snow with no problems. The building damaged was a storage building, not the main store, and the business is open as usual while they make the repairs.