With the cold weather here, Ontario residents everywhere are preparing for the treacherous snowfalls that winter has to offer. However, with a lot of rainfall due to the milder winter temperatures, it’s safe to say we should be prepared for anything. This includes flooding and spring thaw. Though we don’t get as much rain as other provinces, Ontario has had its fair share of storms. In fact, over a decade ago, Toronto was practically underwater when it experienced a month’s worth of rain in only a few hours in July of 2013. Did you know there is more than one type of flood? Let’s take a look at the different flood types, and what to expect if you’re hit with any of them.

Different types of floods: What are they?

Throughout the globe, floods affect people more than any other natural disaster. They displace people, damage property, and in critical scenarios, can result in loss of life. Three flood types can occur:

  1. Fluvial floods, also known as river floods
  2. Pluvial floods, or ‘flash floods’
  3. Coastal floods, or ‘storm surges’

Each flood type will result in you having to take different actions to stay safe and avoid damage to your property and belongings.

1. Fluvial flooding (river floods)

Fluvial floods, also known as river floods, are arguably the most common flood type that occurs. This happens when the water level in a river, lake, or stream ends up overflowing and pouring onto the land surrounding it. Generally, this happens due to excessive rainfall, or when the snow melts. This damage can be widespread since smaller rivers end up being affected downstream, resulting in dams breaking and swamping into nearby areas. To figure out if a river will flood due to rain or snowfall, people consider previous precipitation, as well as the future forecasted precipitation. On top of this, it is important to look at the river’s current levels, as well as the surrounding terrain conditions.

In flat areas, the floodwater will rise and collect more slowly, resulting in shallower heights. However, this water can remain for days. When an area is mountainous or hilly, a flood can occur within minutes as a result of heavy rainfall. From there, it will drain and cause damage due to debris flow.

2. Pluvial flooding (flash floods)

A pluvial flood occurs when extreme rain creates an abundance of water outside of an existing body of water. People believe that if they don’t live near a body of water, they are not at risk. However, a pluvial flood proves otherwise. They can occur at any location, urban or rural, even if bodies of water are not near. Pluvial flooding can be separated into two common categories:

  1. Surface water floods: These happen when a drainage system is overwhelmed by rainfall and water ends up backflowing onto the streets. These tend to occur gradually, allowing people in surrounding areas to move to safer locations. Generally, the water will stay relatively shallow (rarely over a meter deep.) It usually creates no immediate threat to the lives of those near, nor any economic damage.
  2. Flash floods are the second type that occurs. These can be characterized by intense rushes of water, generally triggered by heavy rainfall happening within a short period, close to an area with high terrain. These can also happen via a sudden release of water from an upstream levee or dam. As opposed to the latter, flash flooding can be extremely dangerous, often destroying property due to the powerful force of water, hurtling debris, and objects that get swept up in their flow.

3. Coastal flooding (storm surge)

Coastal floods typically occur with overwhelming winds along the coast by seawater. Common causes of these happen when windstorms occur while tides are high. This is one of the greatest threats associated with hurricanes, typhoons, or tsunamis. This is due to the high-powered winds they bring. When this flood type occurs, it can be quite dangerous. These often lead to the devastating destruction of property in areas of low-lying land. The severity of these floods can be determined by several factors of a windstorm. This includes strength, size, speed, and direction. The onshore and offshore topography will also play an important role.

How to protect your home from these common flood types

Many steps can be taken to prevent damage to your home in the event of a flood occurring. These steps should be taken, no matter what type of area you live in. Many of these steps are quick and easy to accomplish and will go a long way when it comes to protecting your home from any flood damage.

  • Seal any cracks in your foundation and walls
  • Install window wells
  • Keep your drains clear, and avoid pouring grease and oils down them
  • Make sure your sump pump is working correctly
  • Get a backup source for your sump pump in case of a power outage

If you want more detailed information on how to protect your home from damage, check out our article on floods in Toronto, as well as the National Flood Insurance Program.

Remember, having adequate home insurance coverage is crucial to making sure you are protected in the event of any flood damage. 2024 is a good time to make sure you are satisfied with your home insurance policy. If you aren’t, why not contact isure? Reach out or request a quote today!

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