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Water Runoff

snow melting and flooding

A break in the cold weather of winter is usually a welcome site for homeowners. With warmer weather, the chances of pipes freezing, tree limbs falling under the weight of ice, and the electricity going out reduces. But that same thaw can cause water-related problems in the form of water runoff.

When the ground is hard and frozen, but the water starts melting, there are very few places for the water to go. It runs off the land and into nearby lakes, streams, and rivers and can cause them to overflow. Sometimes it even takes debris from yards and streets with it.

FEMA suggests a few things you can do to protect your home and property from the dangers of water runoff:

  • Check your downspouts. Make sure that your downspouts move the water a few feet from your house to an area that drains well. A 1,000 square foot roof with one foot of snow on top of it creates about 2,500 gallons of water when it melts, and it has to go somewhere.
  • Keep the area near your house free of snow, if possible. This snow melt may run down the basement wall. Just a few feet from the building can reduce your chances of this happening.
  • Check and test your sump pump, making sure that the water goes to that well-drained area far enough away from the house. It would also be great if the pipes are on sloped ground to prevent the runoff from freezing.
  • Snow piling up in your yard can lead to wet soil that seemingly takes forever to dry. Removing the snow from the yard can help speed up the drainage process and prevent dangerous refreezing.
  • Double-check to make sure you anchored your fuel tank, both inside and outside. Floodwaters in the basement or garage can tear an unanchored tank free and break the supply line. Outside tanks can be swept away in the runoff, damaging other houses or property.


Preparing your home and property for flooding is a great way to make sure you’re ready for any water runoff situation that affects your community. Taking these steps can help keep everyone’s home, property, and family safe from flooding during a midwinter or early spring thaw.