Emergency management officials warn of heavy snow building up on roofs

As the erratic winter weather wears on, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is advising homeowners to clear their roofs to avoid damage.

Fluffy snow on top of homes can act as a sponge and absorb falling sleet and rain. This adds weight and stress to structures that do not drain properly, the agency said this morning in a statement.

Flat commercial roofs are the most at risk, because the slush has nowhere to run off, according to the statement.

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“This is something to be aware of,” spokesman Travis Hengen said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “You have to get that weight off the roof.”

Ice dams or ice buildup at the edges of roofs also cause problems. They trap in heavy snow, slush, and ice, said Hengen.

This has been the worst winter in recent years for these dams, said local roofers.

“Ice melts during the day and freezes at night, so it grows up the roof like a moss and has no where to go,” said Judy Paldino, co-owner of JMT Residential and Commercial Gutters.

To avoid leaks and potential collapses “able-bodied adults” can shovel snow off flat roofs, said the statement.

Large icicles should also be removed, said the statement. Wearing protective headgear and eye protection is recommended.

Snow rakes and shovels are useful tools for the snow removal, according to the statement.