Spring’s arrival brings a chorus of color, warmer temperatures, and an end to the long, dark days of winter. After months of a barren landscape, we welcome the cheerful presence of flowers and buds, and relish the opportunity to extend our afternoon activities well into the evening hours.
But this season also ushers in an element of unpredictable weather that can often become severe. Two of spring’s greatest offenders are high winds and the increased chance of flooding due to rising water levels in lakes, rivers, and streams, as well as from the thaw of snow in the mountains.
Read on for safety tips to help you protect your home (or other structure) and family from the damaging effects of high winds and spring thaw.
Simply stated, wind is created by a difference in air pressure. High pressure air seeks low pressure air in an attempt to find equilibrium. We experience this movement of air on the earth’s surface as wind. The closer the opposing air pressures are to one another, the stronger the wind.
In the spring, the angle of the sun relative to the earth’s surface increases. This allows the ground surface to heat up and this warm air begins to rise. As it rises, cooler air rushes in to fill the void and wind is created. These often erratic and strongly contrasting temperature swings are also influenced by the Jetstream, which is moving southward across the U.S. at this time.
Here are some tips for protecting your home from damage during a spring windstorm:
- Inspect your home and yard – look for loose shingles, detached gutters, weak fence boards, and tree limbs that are unhealthy or too close to your structure. Hire a contractor or perform repairs yourself now, before a strong gust of wind causes further damage and increases chance collateral damage. Remove any loose trash or other debris.
- Secure outdoor items – before a storm, walk around your property and secure items such as patio furniture, grills, sports equipment, and trash bins. If these items cannot be tied securely in place, bring them indoors until the storm has passed. They can become dangerous projectiles and cause harm to people or buildings.
- Check windows, doors, and garage doors – if they are in poor condition, have them repaired or replaced before they cause a problem. Not only can the broken window or door become further damaged, but it can also allow winds to reach into your home. Also make sure all windows and doors are locked.
After the storm, take another walk around your property to look for potential damage. If you smell gas or see downed power lines, stay away and call the appropriate utility provider. Take note of any damage so you can make repairs or contact your insurance company.
As the air temperatures warm up, snow and ice that have accumulated over the winter begin to melt. This added moisture can occur swiftly or gradually, but either way it will raise water levels and saturate the ground. When this process occurs simultaneously with a precipitation event, spring thaw can become a flash flood event. According to NOAA National Severe Storms Library, flooding is the most common and widespread of all weather-related natural disasters.
Since a high number of injuries and fatalities occur in vehicles during flash floods, you should stay tuned to local weather and obey all highway signage that warns of danger. Visit Ready.gov for specific advice on what to do if you are in a vehicle during a flood.
But flooding can also cause damage to your home. Here are some tips to help you keep your home protected – or minimize potential damage – during a flood.
- Waterproof your basement – this includes applying sealant to any exposed foundation, securing windows and doors, and making sure water is diverted away from your home by your gutters and downspouts.
- Elevate your electrical components – hire a licensed electrician to raise sockets, switches, circuit breakers, and wiring at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation.
- Install sump pumps with backup power – since storms can knock the power out for days (or even weeks), you will want to purchase a sump pump that comes with ability to run on battery backup for at least several days.
In addition to these projects, perform routine maintenance to ensure gutters are free from debris and potential blockage, and that drains at the bottom of stairwells are clear. Basement windows and doors should be maintained in good condition, with proper seals intact. To find out if your home is located in or near a flood zone, check out one of these interactive maps.
By following these suggestions, you can reduce the likelihood of damage and the resulting repairs to your home. Sometimes, however, our best efforts are no match for severe weather. If you need help with repairs following a weather-related incident, call Restoration 1 of West Denver. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help you with your property damage needs.