Weather has become ever more unpredictable and extreme, with unusual heat waves, heavier rainstorms and, of course, more intense and frequent blizzards. True blizzards meet certain criteria: six or more hours of winds above 40 km/hour, visibility reduced to one kilometer by blowing or drifting snow, and fierce wind chills. In our increasingly wacky weather world, however, any intense snowstorm deserves respect, advance preparation and smart action to protect property and increase safety.


As the storm approaches, it’s important to trim tree branches that could impact structures if they break under the weight of snow. Clean out eavestroughs and downspouts to ensure that snowmelt runs smoothly off roofs and away without threatening foundations. Fasten down or store outdoor furniture or other items that could become projectiles as wind speed increases. Finally, plan for possible power outages by making flashlights accessible and slightly opening exterior faucets to avoid damage from frozen pipes.


As the storm progresses, clear exits of direct vent furnaces to avoid shutdowns. Indoors, deploy space heaters wisely. According to experts, these appliances are involved in nearly half of all home fires, most often because they contacted combustible materials. Keep an eye on snow accumulation on roofs, too. Residential roofs typically support somewhat less than a meter and a half of fresh snow, but porch roofs often support far less and may require careful clearing during an intense storm.


After the storm, assess the snowpack on roofs and clear if necessary. Remove snow from fragile landscaping and outdoor meters for gas, electric and water. Clearing and salting walkways and steps is essential: as a property owner, you could be liable if someone is injured on a hazardous walkway you own. Protect yourself, too, by shifting the heavy white stuff very carefully. Thousands of people hurt themselves or exacerbate cardiac troubles annually from snow shoveling.


Finally, enjoy the beautiful white landscape and make a few snow angels. Canada is famous for those human-powered decorations, having hosted numerous snow angel events in attempts to break multiple Guinness World Records!