Environment & Weather
IBHS Provides Property Protection Tips for Winter as Punxsutawney Phil Predicts Six More Weeks PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Joseph King   
Monday, 06 February 2012 08:57

Tampa, Fla. (February 3, 2012) – With the prediction of six more weeks of winter by Punxsutawney Phil, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) provides guidance on how to protect your home or business against roof collapse and other winter weather-related hazards.

During both 2010 and 2011, the U.S. received near record amounts of snowfall, including 2011’s Groundhog Day Blizzard, which caused $1.1 billion in insured losses and more than $2 billion in total losses, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

“Winter weather damage can be particularly disruptive and extremely damaging,” said Julie Rochman, president & CEO of IBHS, “and it occurs at a time when it is difficult and uncomfortable to fix the problems.

“We thank Punxsutawney Phil for his role in reminding people that winter isn’t over yet, so there is still time to protect your property from damage caused by freezing weather,” she added.

Ice Dams

An ice dam is an accumulation of ice at the lower edge of a sloped roof, usually at the gutter. When interior heat melts the snow on the roof, the water will run down and refreeze at the roof's edge, where temperatures are much cooler. The ice builds up and blocks water from draining off of the roof, forcing the water under the roof covering and into the attic or down the inside walls of the house. Take the following steps to decrease the likelihood that ice dams will form:

  • Keep the attic well-ventilated. The colder the attic, the less melting and refreezing on the roof.
  • Keep the attic floor well-insulated to minimize the amount of heat rising through the attic from within the house.
  • As an extra precaution against roof leaks in case ice dams do form, when re-roofing install an ice and water barrier under your roof covering that extends from the lowest edges of all roof surfaces to a point at least 24 inches inside the exterior wall line of the building.

Frozen  Pipes

Frozen water in pipes can cause water pressure buildup between the ice blockage and the closed faucet at the end of a pipe, which leads to pipes bursting at their weakest point. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to freezing in extremely cold weather. Frozen pipes can also occur when pipes are near openings in the outside wall of a building, including where television, cable or telephone lines enter the structure. To keep water in pipes from freezing, take the following steps:

  • Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow the heat transfer. The more insulation the better.
  • Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.
  • Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes (particularly in the kitchen and bathroom).
  • Keep a slow drip of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space.
  • Drain the water system, especially if your building will be unattended during cold periods.

Is Your Roof Strong Enough?

Building age is a major factor in how much snow a roof can handle.  Newer building codes provide much better guidance for estimating snow loads, particularly the increased loads near changes in roof elevations where snow drifts and snow falling from an upper roof can build up on the lower roof near the step. For flat roofs, the step-down area between roof sections is particularly susceptible to snow overload because of the tendency for ice and snow collection, especially during periods of windy weather.

Older roofs can suffer from corrosion of members and connections which can reduce its ability to resist high snow loads. Buildings with lightweight roofs, such as metal buildings or built- up roofs on bar joists generally provide less protection from overload than heavy roofs.

Roof top equipment and roof projections, such as mechanical equipment that is over 2 feet tall, causes snow accumulation due to drift, creating the need for higher snow load consideration in these areas. A serious condition can be created when a taller building or a taller addition is built adjacent to shorter, existing building. Unless the shorter building is strengthened in the area next to the taller building or addition, snow accumulation on the lower roof near the step could produce much higher loads than those considered by the original designer for the existing building.

The best source for determining how much snow load a building can handle is the original design plan. Most roof designs can support at least 20 pounds per square foot. However, design loads can range from 10 pounds to 20 pounds per square foot in Mid-Atlantic states, and between 40 pounds and 70 pounds per square foot in New England.

Guidelines to Estimate Snow Weight

  • 10 inches to 12 inches of fresh/new snow equals about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space.
  • 3 inches to 5 inches of old/packed snow equals about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space.
  • Ice is much heavier, with 1 inch equaling about 1 foot of fresh snow.

Snow and Ice Removal from Roofs

IBHS recommends that property owners not attempt to climb on their roof to remove snow. A safer alternative is to use a snow rake while standing at ground level.

Visit the IBHS Severe Winter Weather page on DisasterSafety.org to learn more about how to protect your home or business against winter weather-related hazards.

To arrange an interview with IBHS, contact Joseph King at 813-675-1045/813-442-2845, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or via direct message on Twitter @jsalking.

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About IBHS

IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

Winter Fun Day Planned PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Lisa Gerwulf   
Friday, 03 February 2012 14:24

On Saturday, February 11 from 9:00 A.M. - 6:30 P.M. the Wapsi River Environmental Education Center will be hosting a winter fun day.  This is an event the whole family can enjoy, so plan to come out and discover winter at its best!  A limited number of skis and snowshoes are available, so please call to reserve equipment; (563) 328-3286BYOM ~ Bring your own mug.

9:30 A.M. ~ Cross-country Ski Clinic ~ Come learn the basics of cross-country skiing and tour the Wapsi Center trails; if conditions allow.  Participants will learn about proper skiing techniques, safety and equipment.  Participants may bring their own equipment.

12:30 P.M. ~ Snowshoe Nature Hike ~ Join Michael Granger on this excursion into the Wapsi River Center's woodlands.  We will be traveling the way of the Native Americans and early pioneers, looking for signs of life in the still, winter woods.

2:00 P.M. ~ Winter Bird Feeding ~ Come learn how to identify winter birds; plus how to attract and feed our feathered friends.  Fun for all ages!

3:00 P.M. ~ Fabulous Furs ~ Join a Wapsi naturalist to explore mammals that live in our area.  Learn how they adapt and thrive during the cold winter months.  Explore the history of fur trapping, trading and how the animals were used.

4:30 P.M. ~ 5th Annual Chili Cook-off ~ The Friends of the Wapsi Center, Inc. will be hosting this annual competition.  Please bring your best chili creation to share, and possibly win the coveted chili cup!!!  Donations are accepted, and please bring your own table setting.

5:30 P.M. ~ Frostbite Star Party ~ Winter is a great time for astronomy.  The sky is never clearer than on cold, winter nights.  The winter constellations center on Orion, the Great Hunter.  In the sword hanging from Orion's Belt, one can find the Orion Nebula, which is one of the most spectacular objects to be seen through a telescope.  The St. Ambrose University's Menke Astronomical Observatory is the location; park in lot A.

The Wapsi River Environmental Education Center can be found 6 miles south of Wheatland or 1 mile northwest of Dixon, Iowa by taking County Road Y4E.  Then turn north at 52nd Avenue and follow the signs for about 1 mile.

Backyard Naturalist Brings Life to Your Neighborhood PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Steve Hart   
Monday, 23 January 2012 14:02

Event Date: January 28, 2012


Do the warm temps and the lack of snow have you ready for spring?  Do you want to learn more about the flora and fauna in your neighborhood?  Then the new Davenport Public Library program, Backyard Naturalist, is for you.  Backyard Naturalist meets the 4th Saturday of the month at 1:00 p.m. at the Eastern Avenue Branch (6000 Eastern Avenue), and it is a great way to introduce people to the plants and animals in their backyards and beyond.  Anyone with an interest in nature will enjoy this FREE event.

For more information visit www.davenportlibrary.com or call (563) 326-7832.




Iowa Wetland Management District Seeks Public Input on Future Management at Series of Open Houses PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Tim Miller   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:54

Iowa Wetland Management District Seeks Public Input on Future Management at Series of Open Houses

Open Houses (3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.):

  • February 13: Clear Lake, Lakeview Community Room, 10 North Lakeview Drive
  • February 14: Algona, Water's Edge Nature Center, 1010 250th Street
  • February 15: Spirit Lake, Dickinson County Nature Center, 2279 170th Street, Okoboji
  • February 16: Jefferson, Milwaukee Railroad Depot, 507 East Lincoln Way

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will be hosting four open houses to request input from the public in developing a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Iowa Wetland Management District (District). The District was established in 1979 as part of Union Slough National Wildlife Refuge; however, Iowa Department of Natural Resources shares management responsibilities on many of the District’s public lands. The primary purpose for establishment of the Wetland Management District was waterfowl production and migratory bird conservation.

The CCP will set wildlife, habitat and public use priorities and guide management decisions on the District for the next 15 years. The official public scoping period begins January 30, 2012 and will last 30 days. This scoping period is a time in which the District actively solicits comments from partners, stakeholders, local communities, neighbors, visitors and the public.

Although comments are welcome from anyone at any time during the planning process, they are most useful if received during this 30 day period. The open houses are just one way for you to participate in scoping and have your ideas on management of the District considered during the planning process.

The Service needs public input to questions like these:

  • How would you like to see the habitats and wildlife managed on the District?
  • Should public use and visitation be allowed and encouraged on the District?
  • What do you think are the most important management issues facing the District?

If you have input to share, but cannot attend the open houses, please send comments to:

Tim Miller, Project Leader                 Phone:  515-928-2523
Union Slough NWR                           Fax:      515-928-2230
1710 360th Street                         Email:   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Titonka, IA 50480


For more information on the Midwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service visit http://midwest.fws.gov.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfwmidwest, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwsmidwest, watch our YouTube Channel at  http://www.youtube.com/usfws and download photos from our Flickr page at  http://www.flickr.com/photos/.

EPA Regions 7 and 8 Meet State Agriculture Directors in Kansas City, Kan. PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kris Lancaster   
Monday, 23 January 2012 13:20

(Kansas City, Kan., Jan. 20, 2012) - Officials from EPA Regions 7 and 8 today hosted a meeting with the directors of state agriculture departments of  Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.  The meeting, held at EPA’s Region 7 building in Kansas City, Kan., provided a forum for dialogue on EPA programs and regulations as well as specific issues, interests and concerns of the agriculture sector.

EPA staff participants in the meeting included: Karl Brooks, Region 7 Administrator; Jim Martin, Region 8 Administrator; Josh Svaty, Region 7 Senior Adviser; Damon Frizzell, Region 7 Agricultural Adviser; Jennifer Schuller, Region 8 Agriculture Adviser; and Howard Cantor, Region 8 Deputy Administrator.

“Agricultural producers deserve credit for taking significant steps to protect the environment while finding innovative ways to feed millions,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks. “American farmers and ranchers have such broad impacts on everything from daily food prices to widespread environmental impacts to emerging renewable fuel technologies that EPA needs to hear the views of state agriculture directors as part of our decision making process.”

EPA recognizes that agricultural producers are on the frontline of environmental stewardship and are affected by many EPA programs.  Frequent meetings with state agriculture directors are a critical way for EPA to provide outreach and receive feedback on current issues and concerns. Specific topics of today’s meeting included air quality standards for particulate matter, renewable fuels, nutrient management, water quality and concentrated animal feeding operations.

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Learn more about the intersections of agriculture and the environment:  www.epa.gov/region07/priorities/agriculture/index.htm


Connect with EPA Region 7 on Facebook:


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