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February 12, 2010 / Dave Gorham

If Snow Was Gold

If snow was made of gold, a cubic foot of snow would be worth almost half a million dollars. That’s because a cubic foot of wet snow weighs about 30 pounds and with gold running about $1000 per once, and 16 ounces in a pound…

But that’s a wet snow. More moisture, bigger flakes and temperatures closer to freezing result in a heavier, more compact or dense snow. Dry out the air, lower the temperature so that the snow is more fluffy and we’re looking at only about $160,000 for a cubic foot of gold snow because drier snow weighs about 2/3s less or about 10 pounds per cubic foot.

30 pounds of wet snow also weighs about the same as a cubic foot of dry chestnut wood, or just a bit more than a cubic foot of roasted coffee beans (27 pounds). It’s also about half what a cubic foot of fresh water weights (62.4 pounds).

What if you have a 15x20ft garage and you have 12-inches of wet snow fall overnight? That’s about 9,000 pounds of snow now resting over your car, your boat or maybe your motorcycles. Is your roof capable of handling the extra weight?

An aluminum storage shed with a collapsed roof due to the weight of the snow. Photo:

The remains of the Knickerbocker Theater in Washington, D.C. When the roof collapsed during the Great Blizzard of 1922 there were 98 deaths. Photo: The Washington Post.

How much weight was on this nearly flat roof of a hangar at a Washington, D.C. airport after 3 feet of wet snowfall? A simple 100x100ft section with 12 inches of snow would be about 300,000 pounds or 150 tons. Triple the snow, triple the weight: 900,000 pounds or 450 tons per 10,000 square feet. If those Gulfstream jets cost $60 million each…how many cubic feet of gold would you need to replace the planes and rebuild the hangar?

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