It may be time to ensure your home is even more prepared for fall and winter than normal as just a casual perusal of newspapers, the Internet, and television broadcasts warn of expected winter storms.
The approaching winter could end up one of the warmest on record for Canada, as a whole, according to international weather experts, as a strong El Niño persists into the upcoming winter season.
Some scientists are predicting this winter’s El Niño will be the strongest since 1998 — when weather-related home damage claims skyrocketed along the West Coast of North America.
In September, the Globe and Mail newspaper quoted a University of Victoria professor as saying, “The ‘monster’ El Niño weather system expected to hit Canada’s West Coast later this fall and winter could lead to higher tides, flooding and erosion in low-lying coastal areas.”
In the article Ian Walker, a UVic geography professor, says, “Now this year is a pretty monster El Niño, probably the largest ever witnessed.”
El Niño is a natural, tropical, ocean-temperature phenomenon, where warm water in the Pacific moves along the equator toward South America’s northern coast and then turns north, up as far as Alaska.
“As warm things expand, we see a higher water level, on the order of tens of centimetres, depending on where you are,” Walker says in the article. “So that’s superimposed on the tides and storms are then superimposed on top of that.”
So warm, wet storms can be expected in B.C.’s Lower Mainland over the next few months.
So how can homeowners prepare for El Niño?
• Drainage: Heavy storms can put extra strain on gutters and drainage systems.
Ensure early that your drainage systems — eaves-troughs, downpipes, and rock-drain beds — are cleared out and sturdy. They can expect to see a heavy workload during the next few months.
Ensure all fallen leaves and other debris have been cleared from your gutters and that the gutters themselves are solidly attached to the house.
Also, rake up any fallen leaves in your yard.
This will ensure that water will not back up, into your home, after a torrential downpour.
Rain gutters help avoid house exterior damage from water splashing up and prevents soil erosion.
Plus, when gutters over flow, water can wick up under roof shingles and cause damage to the roof sheeting. Water hitting the ground and splashing up on the house can stain stucco and paint, or start deteriorating wood siding.
Gutters should be inspected and cleaned every fall, after trees have dropped their leaves. Perforated gutter guards can be installed to prevent leaves from accumulating and clogging gutters. Gutters can be cleaned by hand or with a leaf blower.
Wire strainers can be installed at the top of a downspout to prevent downspout clogging. Water from the downspouts should be directed away from the house foundation.
And brackets that fasten gutters to the house should be inspected annually as well as the joints for leaks.
• Batten down: Any house accessory that strong winds can rip, tear, or pull away from the house should be taken down for the season.
Strong winds often accompany El Niño storms can cause a lot of damage to homes that aren’t adequately prepared for them.
Consider falling tall trees that are dying, weak or might be susceptible to strong winds. Frequently in wet-and-windy winter storms, the damage caused by large trees falling on homes is the greatest.
• Roofin’ it: Lastly, check your roof for worn or old shingles. Windy storms can tear weary roofing from a house and leave it susceptible to water damage.
If you suspect your roof needs repairs, and it’s more than you feel comfortable working on yourself, call a professional.
Many roofing companies will come and repair various roofing types to ensure they are safe for winter storms.
Lastly, stock up on hot chocolate, books, movies, and warm blankets so you can curl up on the couch with a warm drink and a good story.
You don’t want to have to venture out more than usual during story weather.