Deep frost may boost flooding

FAIRMONT – As residents await warmer temperatures, they may want to pick up the snow shovel one last time.

Once it begins to melt, any snow piled up next to buildings and houses could run off into basements. This year – with the frost setting so deep into the ground – could mean additional flooding.

“Because the ground is frozen, any melt will run off,” said Mike Tennyson of Tennyson Construction in Truman. “If the landscaping allows water to run off toward the house, there will likely be water in the basement. Once the frost breaks, especially if there is still lots of snow cover when it breaks, there could be trouble.”

This year, the frost went deep into the soil and has caused problems with water lines.

“There are lots of reports of busted pipes,” Tennyson said. “Once it thaws, people will be finding puddles of water in their yard because it froze so deep. You’ll have to determine whether it’s from melting or leaking pipes. If you’re not sure, contact the city to test the water for chlorine.”

In the meantime, there are a few quick chores that can be done to help avoid a big melting mess.

“The first thing is getting snow off the roof and away from the house,” Tennyson said. “Some people have already banked the snow away from the foundation of their house. Do it as soon as it starts melting.”

Also get snow away from gas meters and water spigots.

“Sometimes the snow gets banked over the faucets, it breaks the pipe, and they have water issues,” Tennyson said.

Make sure any sump pumps are in working order, and if the hose was left out during the winter, make sure it is in good shape and not clogged with ice.

“If someone left the hose out during the winter, and if it’s frozen and someone tries to run the sump pump, it will burn out the pump,” Tennyson said.

How quick the spring melt will occur is yet to be seen.

“[The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] just confirmed that there is another El Nino, and depending on how fast it does will determine our weather this spring. The last one we had, we had milder temps, but it could be for only three to six months and it’s gone … Every spring is different.”