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Cold temperatures, roof collapses mark winter's latest icy turn

Winter Weather and BlizzardsNational Weather Service

For those in the Midwest and Northeast who enjoyed a brief respite from the nastiness of winter, the bad news is that a new storm on Friday was tracking its way through the regions, bringing a return of rain, slush, sleet and snow.

The new storm, carrying heavy, wet snow accumulations of around a foot, on top of already record snowfalls, prompted official warnings that some roofs might be in danger of collapsing. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency issued a warning, following Michigan and Vermont.

“A powerful storm system moving across the eastern U.S. will bring a threat of severe thunderstorms to parts of the East Coast on Friday, with [severe] weather ... ,  including blizzard conditions, forecast for parts of the Upper Midwest and northern Great Lakes,” the National Weather Service warned. “A wintry mix is forecast across northern New England.”

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In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, forecasters predicted as much as 13 inches of fresh snow could fall through Friday. Minnesota was expected to get 8 to 10 inches.  Wisconsin declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm and some schools closed early.

Strong winds in central Illinois produced at least one tornado and 60 mph wind gusts that destroyed several farm buildings and knocked out power to thousands of people, according to officials. There were no reports of injuries.

This winter has been a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Record snowfalls have created piles of snow weighing down structures and officials warn that rooftops, especially if they are flat, could in danger.

“Flat roofs can be shoveled clear, but only if it is determined that the roof is safe to stand upon. Exercise care when on the roof to avoid potentially dangerous falls,” Massachusetts officials warned.

Even the recent warming temperatures, eagerly awaited by benumbed residents, bring their own dangers. Melting snow can clog waterways and urban sewer and runoff systems, creating potential flooding dangers. Prepare for stepping off of curbs and feeling frozen water sloshing through low-cut shoes and boots in areas where drains are blocked by snow packs.

Temperatures were above freezing in Illinois on Wednesday and Thursday. Emergency workers evacuated at least one nursing home in Illinois as a precaution against flooding.

But temperatures in the teens that are expected to drop to single digits during the weekend mean that melted snow could refreeze. 

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Winter Weather and BlizzardsNational Weather Service
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