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Record high snowpacks could be cause for disaster across southern Ontario in the coming months

High snowpacks means high flood risk in southern Ontario

Saturday, February 22, 2014, 5:11 PM -

Slowly but surely, winter is coming to an end -- and just around the corner is spring and milder temperatures. 

But before residents jump for joy, those is southern Ontario are told to prepare for potential flooding this spring, due to the extremely high snowpacks.

"Given that the snowpack is as significant as it is," says Climate Change Adaptation Project Director Jason Thistlethewaite, "we are at a much higher risk of flooding in southern Ontario during the spring melt-off."

RELATED: How much snow are you working with? Get your regional snow report here!

"We haven't seen a snowpack like this -- accumulations like this -- since the late 70's, early 80's," added Cam Linwood, a spokesperson of the Grand River Conservation Authority. 

Flood Inc. Restoration Services senior estimator, Chad Preidt, says he anticipates flood claims will be four times higher than average this spring. 

"That is if the snow is built up beyond the top of the foundation wall," says Preidt. "In combination with the fast melting that we're seeing and the rain, the water has been finding ways to make its way in over top the foundation and into basements." 

Thistlethewaite says the country needs to have a much more rigorous conversation about the risk of flooding. 

SEE ALSO: Manitoba prepares for spring ice jam flooding

"Property owners for the most part are unaware of these types of risks, they don't know that they live in a floodplain that regularly floods," he says. 

Last year was a record year for weather related damage from flooding in Canada. Thistlethewaite says there was approximately $3.2 billion worth of private insured losses. 

So what can you do to prevent flooding and further damage this spring? 

"One thing that I would highly recommend is that people focus on making sure that snow and ice and cleared off their roof, says Preidt. "If you need to contract out a roofer to do so I'd recommend that, and clear as much snow away from your foundation as possible."

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