After rounds of icy air and piles of snow, many in the Northeast may be excited for a few days of some warmer weather. However, the increase in temperature also brings an array of threats that could be damaging to people or property, such as falling ice, roof collapses and floods.
According to AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek, icicles forming on homes are primarily a result of insufficient insulation and improperly running gutters, though other factors, such as the amount of direct sunshine, can also lead to icicle-forming conditions.
Homes without the right insulation lose heat, which melts the snow off the roof. If the gutters are not clear, the water overflows and freezes when it hits the frigid air. This process can continue for hours, resulting in large, heavy icicles.
An incoming warmup for the Midwest and Northeast, though short lived, will make these existing icicles especially dangerous.
"Thursday into Friday night is going to be the first time in a while that many places will spend the whole time period, both daytime and night, above freezing," Dombek said.
The warmer air will cause faster melting of the icicles, which will loosen them from their points of attachment on roofs and other surfaces. They can come crashing down to the detriment of people and objects below them with the ability to shatter car windshields, as well as cause concussions or even fatalities.
Recently, falling ice closed streets in New York City as icicles came plummeting to the surface from the top of skyscrapers. One pedestrian was struck with falling ice and required 80 stitches as a result.
As snow slowly melts on roofs, it can waterlog the flakes that remain, adding weight to the structure. This can weaken the roof and cause it to collapse.
To prevent roof collapses and falling ice, remove snow from roofs as quickly as possible following a storm. If weary of climbing up onto the roof, homeowners can hire professionals to handle the cleanup.
Other concerns that the warming weather can bring are increased risks of flooding as snow melts. Many drainage systems are blocked with ice and snow, or debris pushed aside by snow plows. Additionally, ice jams can dam rivers and streams as melting snow rises water levels.