One of the facets of living in this rural area that I most enjoy is the ‘immense silence’; I can go days and never hear any man-made sounds other than those I make. I’ve become very much used to this wonderful quiet so imagine my surprise when it was broken last week by huge and extremely loud ‘thumps’ many of which actually shook the entire house! At first I was clueless but then a quick look outside at the base of the house revealed the source; with the extraordinary warmth all this month the two feet plus of snow on the roof, now decreased to less than 18″ through melting and far too much rain and freezing rain, was finally beginning to break apart and drop to the ground. Given the composition of these pieces – easily 50% ice – and the random sizing – between just a foot square out to many feet square – it’s not a surprise the larger pieces could produce such dramatic results. Late last week I had to straighten a number of wall hanging pictures which had been knocked askew by vibrations from the huge thumps created by the falling snow/ice chunks. Poor Qanuk was driven to distraction by the really large pieces falling; he either cowered in his crate or ran to me for reassurance!
Even though the roofs up here have a very steep pitch and are made of metal to expedite the removal of the snow loading this had not happened until now. Add to this fact the collected snow was saturated first by freezing rain and later by just plain rain the resultant mixture was extremely heavy. As the following image show the pieces can be quite large although this image is of a piece getting ready to drop from the front porch roof and as such generated no real noise or vibration because the distance it fell was so short. However, imagine chunks this size or larger falling from the second story roof and you get some idea of the nature of these situations. This is yet another key learning involving living up here and one that is most valued. A buddy and I will be putting up an enclosure this fall to allow me to get my Ford Escape out of the elements. Aligning it with any portion of the house which produces such snow and ice chunks would be disastrous; thankfully now i know what to look for and we will site said enclosure to be clear of the falling winter borne debris. Just another interesting piece of rural Alaskan living…
It can be truly quite unnerving when your not expecting the ice to come down to all of the sudden hear a roar that sounds like a tree is falling on the roof of the house…welcome to Alaskan living.
Hey Pete – Yep, ‘unnerving’ is a good, accurate term! Now that I know what the noise is I kinda ignore it but at first I was mystified and just a bit concerned. Poor Qanuk still jumps at the loud ones but I’m working on getting him desensitized; he needs to be more like Anana who raises her head when there’s a thump, looks around and then goes back to sleep! This is just one more key learning regarding Alaskan living; I love these experiences and am sure I’ll continue to accumulate them with time. My buddy and I will be building a car port next fall – probably in middle to late October to wait for some freezes to kill off the insects – and it was vital I experienced this phenomena so I know where to site said enclosure to escape the fallout from the roof come break up. Have you made it back to Livengood as of yet..??