With rain on the way, flooding potential eyed
WEARE — April showers are on the way.
But whether 2014 will bring major floods is not a question anyone can answer, according to National Weather Service meteorologist James Brown in Gray, Maine. "The fact that it snowed a lot this year doesn't mean it's going to rain a lot," he said.
A storm moving in tonight is not expected to be major, but the rain will add to already-swollen rivers that have been steadily filling as snow melts.
With yearly snowfall totals measuring more than 20 inches above average in many places, Brown said, the ground is saturated and rivers are running high. The cooler temperatures New Hampshire has experienced this spring have slowed the rate of snow melt, so rivers are experiencing a more gradual increase in water levels than in some years, he said.
Still, there's unusually deep snow on the ground, especially up north, Brown said, so there's plenty more water heading downstream in coming weeks.
Wayne Davis of Country 3 Corners True Value Hardware in Weare said that now is the time to start making sure things are ship-shape around the house.
"This is the time to go down and test your sump pump," he said.
A sump pump, generally sunk into a bucket in a hole in the basement floor, keeps the water level under the foundation from getting high enough to cause flooding.
When testing the pump, Davis said it's important to clean out any debris in the bucket and make sure the pump hasn't sucked up any gravel or other objects that could cause it to burn out.
The hoses that lead from the pump to the outside should be checked for wear and tear and replaced if necessary, he said.
"You want the hoses to be discharging water at least 20 feet from the house," said Davis. "Otherwise the water will just seep down under the foundation again."
For folks with gutters, giving them a good cleaning will help move the rain away from the foundation. But Davis said a lot of people forget one important step.
"You have to make sure the downspout is clean too," he said. "It doesn't matter if your gutters are clean if the water doesn't have anywhere to go."
For those without gutters, installing rain diverters, L-shaped metal strips, over exterior doors will keep the water from splashing and causing door sills to rot. Davis said those need to be cleaned of debris as well.
"We've had a lot of snow," he said, "and the ground is still frozen, so the rain has nowhere to go. But we've had worse."