Can Flooding Happen in Winter?

You couldn’t get away from the news reports about the massive snow storm in Buffalo a couple of weeks ago. To be fair, two metres of snow in the middle of November is an event that is pretty newsworthy. As if the massive amounts of snow weren’t bad enough, when the weather warmed up a few days later, rare but devastating winter flooding was the next big worry.

The first thing that leapt into many of our minds is that Southern Ontario and Buffalo aren’t all that far apart. If a severe weather event can cause devastation there so unexpectedly, could it possibly happen here?

Flooding Can Happen Whenever the Weather Changes

The scariest thing about flood conditions is that they can strike without warning, and those conditions can change faster than emergency services can react. When you are shovelling a massive amount of snow, it can be easy to forget that it’s just one of the states of matter for water. Whenever there is a massive quantity of water, flooding is a danger. Granted, we typically worry about flooding during the great spring thaw, but flooding can happen whenever there is an abrupt change in the weather.

You can’t do much to change the weather, but you can take steps to prevent the devastating effects of flooding in your house, starting with the basement. First and foremost, do what you can to clear accumulated snow away from the foundation of your home. Check to make sure that any downspouts aren’t blocked by large amounts of snow. When snow from your roof melts, it’s going to need somewhere to go, and it’s going to have a much easier time getting away from your house if the area surrounding the downspouts is clear.

If you do not have a backwater valve (aka, sump pump) in your home, you should be aware that the City of Toronto has a Basement Flooding Protection Subsidy Program that may be able to provide a grant to install one. If you do have a sump pump, now is the time to make sure it is functioning correctly. To do so, try lifting up the float up to ensure that is running properly. The first major thaw of the year is a really bad time to discover that it’s not functioning as expected.

When Prevention is not an Option

If you find out that it’s too late to prevent a flood in your home, the most important thing to remember is that panic rarely helps anything. Get relevant instructions from your municipal or provincial authorities, and follow those instructions to the letter to keep you and your family safe in flood conditions.

We can offer expert flood recover services to help you get your home put back together after a serious flooding event. Remember that all of the “stuff” in your house is replaceable, with the notable exception of the people in it. If you do catch wind of flooding in your area, take all warning and watches very seriously.

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