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Are You Ready for Winter? Your Complete Guide for Safe Winter (for your properties as well!)

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Your Complete Guide for Safe Winter

There’s something alluring about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. The glistening and crispness of the snow make us feel special.

Honey in excess, however, is no longer sweet. Abundant snow makes Canadian winter absolutely stunning but it sometimes makes it brutal too.

Last winter, major parts of Ontario experienced an extraordinary winter storm that involved extreme cold temperatures, dangerously rapid snowfall, and an ultimate snow accumulation. Toronto and the GTA witnessed historic snowfall totals in January.

Weather Forecast: Winter 2022-2023

Winter 2022-2023 Forecast: Bundle up, Canadians, we will likely be seeing lots of snow!

How will this year's winter look like then? There is a good chance that we will be seeing as much amount of snow again. The periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific, known as La Niña, will be present (with 75% chance) for the third time in a row.

Here is the summary of the forecast for winter 2022-2023 from

  • Western Canada: It is likely that we are having a winter with near-normal temperatures and snow/rain for much of central and southern British Columbia. The heaviest snowfall will cut across the northern part of British Columbia and southeast through the Canadian Rockies.

  • The Prairies: The temperatures will remain near normal during the winter season. In Calgary, Alberta, the average high temperature from December through February, is 1 degree Celsius. However, southern Alberta, which includes Calgary and Edmonton, will possibly experience more snow.

  • Eastern Canada: The coldest air will stay well to the northwest of Eastern Canada including Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. In the upper Great Lakes and northern Quebec, more snow days than normal are predicted.

  • Atlantic Canada: Due to higher-than-average water temperatures, this year's winter will start off more mild than normal. The second half of the winter could turn stormy.

Know the Differences Between Different Winter Weather Advisories

What's the Difference between Snow Watch and Warning?

Did you know that among all snow and ice-related accidents, approximately 70 percent result from vehicle accidents? That's not all. The extremely cold temperature along with ice and snow can wreak havoc on your property such as frozen water pipes and warped structures due to heavy snow.

Depending on the region you are in, you may experience especially harsh, longer winter. Across Canada, extreme cold can occur all of a sudden and last for multiple days. Several states of the US are also notorious for brutal coldness.

Extreme winter condition requires extra attention and care for property management. It is crucial to understand the meaning of different types of winter weather and related advisories to take appropriate actions for safety.

Types of Winter Weather / Winter Weather Advisories

  • Freeze Watch: A Freeze Watch is issued when there is a potential for significant, widespread freezing temperatures within the next 24-36 hours.

  • Freeze Warning: A Freeze Warning is issued when significant, widespread freezing temperatures are expected.

  • Sleet: Sleets are frozen raindrops that turn into ice pellets before reaching the ground. They are often mixed with rain or snow. In general, sleet bounces off when it hits a hard surface and does not stick to objects.

  • Freezing Rain: As the name implies, it is liquid rain when the temperature near the surface is below freezing (0 °C, 32 °F, 273 K). Freezing rain forms a coating or glaze of ice over the surface it touches. Even small accumulations of ice can cause significant hazards and damage.

  • Blizzard: A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds (winds greater than 35 mph / 56 km/h) and low visibility. Blizzards usually last for a prolonged period of time, around three or four hours.

  • Blizzard Warning: This is issued when the blizzard conditions (low visibility of less than 1/4 mile due to falling and/or blowing snow, and winds at least 35 mph) are expected for at least 3 hours.

  • Winter Storm Watch: It warns the public of the possibility that there is a blizzard, heavy snow, and/or heavy freezing rain forming. Winter Storm Watches are usually issued 12 to 48 hours in advance.

  • Winter Storm Warning: This is issued when hazardous winter weather condition in the form of heavy snow, freezing rain, and/or sleet is imminent or already occurring. Winter Storm Warnings are usually issued 12 to 24 hours in advance.

Questions to Ask to Diagnose Your Property for Winter

Extreme winter weather conditions such as snowstorms, blizzards, and freezing rain can instantly create a wide range of serious property damages. In order to ensure the safety of your valued asset and the people in it, make sure to be responsible for the side effects of winter.

Start with getting to know your property in depth. Every plan of action begins with a thorough diagnosis. Start with getting to know the property. Having a clear understanding of what makes your property unique will help you determine how and what to prepare.

Ask questions such as:

  • How old is the property? The answer to this question will help to determine/estimate the age and durability of the structure of your property.

  • What are those building materials? Depending on your property's building materials, your plan of action needs to be adjusted. For example, metal can suffer from rust while wood frames can be easily weakened by excessive moisture.

  • What are regional threats? The specific location of the property may have specific regional weather conditions. If the property resides in a region that is susceptible to frequent ice storms, you may encounter damages due to heavy ice build-up.

  • What is the property's restoration history in the past? Generally speaking, the parts/areas that have been damaged in the past may be especially susceptible to future issues. Go through the history of restoration done on the property and determine which part/area needs special attention.

  • What is your property's grading? The property grading means the level of the ground around your property and how this ground levels out determines the direction of water flow. If water tends to find its way into your property and creates a pool nearby, it can cause a serious issue.

Winter Preparation Starts Now: 6 Crucial Steps to Prepare Your Commercial Property for Winter

Canada is known for a long and notorious winter. It is highly likely that we will see the effects of La Niña this year. Last winter, major parts of Ontario witnessed record-breaking snow storms. For property owners and managers, it is extremely important to prepare your valued asset in advance for safe winter.

Here are the 6 crucial steps for essential winter preparation for properties:

  • Plan for snow and ice removal

It is expected we are going to experience more snow along with cruel storms this coming winter. If not dealt with promptly, heavy snow and ice create serious liability issues. It is too late to find a good snow/ice removal service AFTER it happens. Every competent property owner/manager starts planning way ahead of time so that their properties will be kept safe and strong during the long Canadian winter.

When planning for a removal service, you have several options to choose from for managing removal. Many property owners and managers choose to contract with a snow removal company but this absolutely depends on the unique situation of you and your property. Have a thorough review of your property and determine what kind of service fits you the best.

  • Check and take care of your roof

The roof may be one of the areas that property owners/managers can easily overlook. During autumn, fallen leaves can easily get collected and clogged in gutters. This issue, when not dealt with in a timely manner, can create serious issues such as mold issues and electrical fires. We strongly recommend thorough routine maintenance at the beginning and end of every winter season. When inspecting the roof, make sure to include the following in your inspection:

  • Curled, missing, broken, or loose shingles

  • Damaged, missing, rusty, or corroded flashings

  • Clogged gutters and downspouts

  • Damage to gutters or eaves

  • Any cracks or any signs of cracks at the chimney

  • Rot in the fascia board

If there is a need for repair, start it as soon as possible so that it will be ready for the harsh snow season.

  • Prepare for power outages

Power outages can happen anywhere, anytime even in the most civilized cities. Depending on the size and type of your business, a power outage can cost an arm and a leg. A temporary power outage can harm your reputation and/or cause big financial opportunities to flee away. A power backup generator gives you an uninterruptible power supply. It will keep your staff confident and comfortable when extreme weather hits. Having proper power backup generators installed also protects proprietary client data, keeping computer systems operational at all times.

  • Insulate your plumbing

When the temperatures drop below freezing (0 degrees Celsius & 32 degrees Fahrenheit) for an extended period of time, the water in the pipes starts to freeze. When frozen, water becomes heavier and bigger in volume; Its extra weight and volume add pressure on the walls of the pipes and can burst them. Make sure to insulate your plumbing to prevent this worst nightmare: In general, fitting your pipes with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves will do the work. Consult with a professional to determine the best ways to insulate your plumbing.

  • Mitigate security risks

A lot of people leave for vacations during winter, especially in December and January. As a result, robbery increases in December on average. It is a good idea to strengthen your security measures to protect your valuable assets as well as the safety of your employees/tenants. What kind of measure you need to add on varies depending on your unique situation from hiring security guards to doubling up security camera installments.

  • Have an HVAC system maintenance check

We spend more time indoors during winter, therefore the significance of indoor air quality is absolutely critical. Before the winter season begins, check your manufacturer’s guidelines for how frequently you need to change your air filters. Here is a quick checklist for winter HVAC system maintenance:

  • Replace the filter according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Usually, it is between 30-90 days.

  • Check the ignition burner assembly.

  • Clear drain lines and pans of any standing water

  • Check wiring and electrical connections.

  • Check thermostats to see if they are set at the correct temperatures.

  • Check the heat pump.

  • Have a thorough inspection of the heating elements/heat exchanger. If these things get damaged, carbon monoxide can be leaked.

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