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If the snow builds up, you need to get it off your roof. A shovel helps. If the snow builds up, you need to get it off your roof. A shovel helps.

Guess what? It snows here

We sure did get a lot of snow last winter, many inches more than most winters, but still... I was simply amazed at how “caught off guard” we were by an above average snow year. I think to myself, “hasn’t it been snowing in these parts for thousands of years? Doesn’t it happen every year, about the same time and don’t we get a really big snow year about every ten years or so?”  But last year, as in 1996, again we seemed caught off guard. Several roofs collapsed, some barns were lost, I even heard some livestock were lost.  Schools closed, people “could not” get to work, my daughter’s doctor appointment was even cancelled  because it was snowing and the doctor was driving all the way from Coeur d’Alene. I would like to use this opportunity to encourage everyone to be prepared for winter and for the chance of above average snow fall and also below average temperatures.

There were a lot of people who could not get out of their driveways last winter, to make it to work; some teachers could not make it to the community college to teach their classes, there were doctors who could not make it to the office to see their patients, etc… So, here are some suggestions on that.

If you live in town, and only travel the paved roads, then a two-wheel-drive car will get you by (if you have a snow shovel that is, some sand to put down if  you can‘t get traction and some chains just in case). But if you live in a rural area, off the pavement, you will need some sort of 4-wheel-drive vehicle, just a small SUV or AWD station wagon will do. You really should have some chains and  know how to use them, and you should have a snow shovel and some sand bags in the back of your rig, too.  I keep a cheap “come along” in my rigs which will usually get you out of any snowy situation you are stuck in. But the bottom line is, have the right rig for the part of the country you live in and around here I can’t imagine living even in town without 4X4, or AWD (front wheel drive only if you live in town and plan on staying there).  

However, if you are supposed to be somewhere and if it is snowing really heavily out, then leave earlier, drive more slowly, have the proper rig for the part of the country you live in, have the proper tires for the season you are driving in and learn to drive in the snow because... well, it happens every year for an entire season.  

The oddest phenomenon to me was that all the stores  sold out of snow shovels.  This seemed so weird because I was wondering, who is it that lives in snow country and does not have a snow shovel but then rushes out to buy one, if we get higher than average snow fall? At what depth of snow does one decide they need a snow shovel? How could a person live in a place where it snows a lot, every single winter, and not own a snow shovel? I have always needed one; well, since I moved from Louisiana, anyway. In fact, I have a plethora of snow shovels, in various states of disrepair, so I did have to bust out the Duct tape, Marine Epoxy, add some screws and even do a little welding to the metal ones. Anyway, it is important to have a snow shovel or two on hand. Not one of those with the silly shaped handle and flimsy plastic blade either; I am talking about a good, metal blade, flat head shovel and maybe a high volume heavy duty plastic blade one too (if you are too weak, old or too infirm to use one, have prior arrangements made each winter for someone who will take care of your shoveling).  

So, for those who did not realize it, if you live in a place where it snows, you should probably have a snow shovel. Most importantly, if several feet of snow builds up on the roof of any of your structures, then you should shovel it off or find someone who will. If your structure does not collapse this year, it will weaken it and then the next big snow year it may fall.

If you are building a structure, make sure to plan well for the snow season—build it for these heavy snow years and even build for the “hundred” year event because we don’t know which year it will be. Some things to keep in mind are to make sure your builder did not just arrive from a snowless area and that he has good experience building in snowy mountain areas. If you are doing the building yourself, make sure to build with an aggressive pitch which will shed snow well, even when we have a warm period immediately followed by a cold period which then freezes the surface snow to the roof (shovel as needed). Plan roofs to shed the snow away from entries and parking areas, avoid roof valleys and dormers that sequester snow and bury chimneys, vents, etc.; avoid stubby, inadequate little eaves that invite massive ice jams and/or send deadly icicle spears directly into windows placed beneath. In fact, avoid placing windows where snow and ice will be falling or pushing against them. The bottom line is to hire a builder who knows what they are doing or if you are building yourself,do adequate research on proper building techniques for this region.

But above all remember, it will snow again this winter;  it may be a really big snow year and we may get below average temps too. So, we all need to be prepared for the snow and perform our duties regardless of how much snow falls or how cold it gets.


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Author info

Michael White Michael White is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker - Sterling Society and a consultant for Northwest Group In-Land. He has a BS in Forest Resources & Ecosystem Management and specializes in land, ranches and homes with acreage.

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