Following weeks of bone-chilling cold, area homeowners brace for quick thaw and all new winter worries

Already swamped with calls about burst pipes, restoration companies are gearing up for a busy week responding to flooded homes and collapsed roofs.

The cold spell gripping the London region since before Christmas finally broke Monday when the temperature rose above freezing for the first time in nearly three weeks - writes

The forecast calls for rain and highs of between 4 and 6C Wednesday and Thursday. And that upcoming break from winter could spell trouble for homeowners.

“We’re going to probably get hammered,” said Gerry Spina, owner of First General, a property restoration company, who anticipates a spike in flooding calls.

“Because you get the regular rainfall, plus the (melted) snow that gets thrown in there, and the sewers can’t handle it. It just ends up backing up in the houses.”

London was already digging out from an especially snowy stretch of weeks when residents awoke Monday to a thick white blanket that cancelled school buses, created havoc on roads and prompted the fire department to ask residents to clear snow from around hydrants.

The accumulating snowfall, combined with the upcoming rain, means roofs are at risk of collapsing, Spina said.

“With all the snow and ice on roofs, they can’t support all the water up there.”

Spina said First General has been busy responding to calls for burst pipes in recent weeks.

City officials are reminding citizens to ensure sump pumps and backwater valves are working, warning that flooding is expected on some streets.

City workers will try to clear as many of London’s 32,000 catch basins as possible, sewer operations manager Rick Pedlow said.

“If a citizen is able to safely clear a path to a catch basin fronting their home, their time and effort will minimize the potential for localized street flooding,” Pedlow said in an email.

Meanwhile the Upper Thames Conservation Authority is cautioning the public to stay away from area waterways.

The changing temperatures could cause ice to shift and create fast-flowing water, but flooding isn’t expected in the London region, said the conservation authority’s Steve Sauder.

“With the upcoming warm temperatures and rain, we will see consolidation of the snow pack this week,” he said.

“We will be watching these conditions very closely in the upcoming hours and days.”

The region already has shivered through an especially cold first leg of winter. The temperature dipped below –20C on seven days, well above the average of three times for the entire season, Environment Canada senior climatologist Dave Phillips said.

“This is why this week is welcomed,” he said of the balmy forecast. “This is American air, not Siberian air.”

Unfortunately, the warm weather isn’t expected to stick around for long. After peaking Thursday, when the daytime high will climb to 6C, double-digit lows will return on the weekend.

Read also other news of London on our site.
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