A roof sagging under the weight of snow prompted a resident of the Chelmsford Mobile Home Park to notify public safety officials Friday night, who inspected all the units in the park and ruled that three were uninhabitable.
Melting snow on the roof of the post office in Weston temporarily forced the evacuation of that building this morning as well, but it reopened soon after and workers were called to clear snow off the roof, said Dennis Tarmey, communications program specialist for the US Postal Service for Greater Boston.
These incidents could be a harbinger of what's to come over the next several hours and overnight as freezing rain moves through Massachusetts, primarily around Worcester and the Berkshires.
Greater Boston could see freezing rain for an hour or so today before winds coming in from the ocean turns it into rain, said Benjamin Sipprell, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Boston.
The Weather Service said the light, spotty snow and sleet falling in Greater Boston is expected to continue until about 1:30 p.m. before turning to rain that will last until late tonight. The snow and sleet extends beyond the metropolitan area south to Providence and west through Worcester County and the Berkshires, where sleet could become more widespread toward nightfall.
"The biggest threat is the freezing rain potential and the ice accretion west of Boston in Worcester County and in the Berkshires," he said. "It depends on how everything tracks today. Everything should be lifting northeastward out of the area around midnight and it should get considerably cooler. Temperatures should fall below freezing again."
Until then, however, roofs that already are straining could face the additional burden of thick snow made heavier by rain.
"We were closed for a short period of time this morning," Tarmey said of the Weston post office. "We're having a roof company come onto the site and clear off the roof as a safeguard."
Elsewhere in the region, post office managers are monitoring their buildings and may call the Postal Service's maintenance office if they think a roof should be shoveled, said Tarmey, who added that roofs already have been cleared at larger buildings in North Reading and Shrewsbury "that have huge roof space that cover a large work area."
In Chelmsford, a resident concerned about a mobile home roof called 911 at about 6:30 p.m. Friday, said Captain Dan Funaro of the town's Fire Department.
"When we got out there, there was considerable sagging in the roof," he said.
The residents of that unit were evacuated, and as the building inspector and fire officials checked around the park, they found other units with problems, Funaro said, "and that expanded to checking the entire trailer park."
He said that "somewhere upwards of 250 units" were inspected, 18 were evacuated until the building inspector examined the structure, and three were deemed uninhabitable. Residents of those units are staying with family or friends, Funaro said.
Most of the mobile homes were safe, however, because "a lot of people have been keeping up with the snow," he said. "They shoveled their units and have been doing a fantastic job."
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more