Snow Loads and Roofs in Aspen




Snow Loads and Roofs in Aspen


Contact:  Stephen Kanipe, Chief Building Official, City of Aspen, 429-2766 or

Aspen, Colorado – February 12, 2014 – When should I shovel the snow off my roof?” The Building Department at the City of Aspen has gotten that question a lot lately.  For those that are wondering here is a quick summary to help you determine if you need to be concerned.


Based on precipitation data supplied by the Aspen Water Department, between October 1,2013 and February 11, 2014, 132.8 inches of snow fell in the City. The mass of this accumulation is about 62 pounds per square foot (lbs/sq ft). If there is any ice build-up on the roof, add 5.2 lbs for every inch in thickness.


The structural design for roof snow load in Aspen is 75 lbs/sq ft. According to Jim Markalunas, a former City official, this was established after a spring storm in March 1965 when the Tompkins Hardware store collapsed. Structures built before March 1965 were designed to withstand a 45 to 60 lbs/sq ft snow load.

If you live in a manufactured home (trailer) look at the certification label (a metal label affixed to the manufactured home) to verify your roof design snow load. Flat roofs are more of a concern (less than 3/12 pitch) and tend to hold more snow moisture. If rain falls on a snow loaded roof, the weight of the roof snow will increase rapidly.

If your structure is in question, it is best to consult a licensed engineer.

It is not necessary to remove the snow to the shingles. This may damage the roofing materials and structure and cause an accident such as a person sliding off the roof. Be aware of the potential dangers of raking snow from the roof and injury from the sliding snow.


In summary, the City of Aspen does not make recommendations on when to remove snow from roofs. It is up to the individual property owner to consider the benefits and dangers of snow removal and decide their own course of action.


Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014