UPDATE: Mixed precipitation forecast prompts Special Weather Statement for Kingston area

Photo by Bence Balla Schottner.

Environment Canada has issued a Special Weather Statement for Kingston, and surrounding areas, advising of a “messy mix of wintry weather” beginning this evening.

The advisory is in effect for the Kingston, Odessa, Frontenac Islands, Napanee, Consecon, Picton, and Sandbanks Park areas and was issued just after 6:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. The weather event is expected is to begin this afternoon and continue through the evening, the national weather agency said.

“A low-pressure system is expected to track northeast across Lake Erie and Lake Ontario Thursday night which will bring a messy mix of wintry precipitation to southern Ontario,” the national weather service said in a release. “Precipitation will likely begin as rain this evening, transition to freezing rain or ice pellets Thursday and then to snow Thursday night.”

At approximately 11:50 a.m., Environment Canada also released a rainfall advisory for the same area.

“Heavy downpours can cause flash floods and water pooling on roads,” the advisory reads. “If visibility is reduced while driving, turn on your lights and maintain a safe following distance. Keep children and pets away from creeks and river banks.”

According to the advisory, rain is forecasted to begin this evening through Thursday evening, with 20 to 35 mm expected, with the heaviest fall expected on Thursday. Freezing rain mixed with ice pellets as possible on Thursday afternoon or evening, the advisory continued. On Thursday evening, the national weather agency expects the rain will transition to freezing rain or ice pellets Thursday evening as the temperatures fall.

Environment Canada expects the precipitation to turn to snow, on Thursday night with accumulations of 10 to 20 mm possible. Heavy and blowing snow are possible Thursday night.

With high amounts of precipitation in the forecast, Utilities Kingston is urging residents to take steps to protect their properties and know who to call in case of a power outage. 

According to the utility company, Kingston is primarily served by two electricity providers – Utilities Kingston and Hydro One. A small number of homes and businesses in Kingston East and north of the 401 receive their services from Eastern Ontario Power.

In the event of a power outage:

  • Utilities Kingston customers – check our Outage Map or call 613-546-1181 anytime.
  • Hydro One customers – check www.hydroone.com/StormCenter, text WATTS (92887) or call 1-888-664-9376.
  • Eastern Ontario Power customers – call 1-844-601-9473.

To see if you are in Utilities Kingston’s service area, they suggest residents use the address look-up tool. Utilities Kingston’s electricity customers are in Central Kingston, Barriefield and CFB Kingston. Those not in Utilities Kingston’s area, can check their electricity bill or view a map of electricity service areas in Kingston.

Utilities Kingston also provided the following information to help protect your property from basement flooding:

During heavy rainfalls and rapid snow melt, every basement is at risk of flooding – even if it’s never happened before. Ensure rainwater drains away from your foundation. Consider the following tips to protect your property: 

Remove high-value items out of your basement and store other items in watertight containers.

Check your sump pump for proper operation and follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations. For example, you may wish to:

  • Confirm it’s plugged in and working properly. Have you considered battery backup in case of a power outage?
  • Consider an extra length of hose to increase the distance at which it discharges away from your foundation.
  • Consider, if your sump pump drains to the surface, the discharge point may be buried under snow, ice and debris. Uncover it and clear a path so the water drains away from your foundation. Otherwise, water may recycle back into your basement.
  • Check your sump pump lines to ensure they aren’t frozen.

Check your sanitary backwater valve, and operate and maintain it according to the manufacturer’s directions. Consider these tips:

  • If you can do so safely, you may wish to open the lid, clean it out, confirm there is a good seal in place and test its operation.
  • When it’s raining heavily, reduce your water use. The sewers may be filling due to the heavy rains and the device’s gate may close to block sewage from backing up into your home. The opposite is also true – sewage from your home cannot get out, either. 
  • In general, the devices must be installed in accordance with manufacturer directions and Ontario building code, in an accessible location. Check and clean the devices frequently, following the type and frequency of maintenance, as per manufacturer recommendations. 
  • Get more information about backwater sanitary valves.

Ensure your downspouts are clear of snow, ice and debris so water routes safely away. Downspouts should be directed at least two meters away from the foundation, so you may wish to consider an extra length of pipe.

Reduce your water use on rainy days. When it’s raining heavily, the sewers may fill up. Using a lot of water during heavy rains (for example, taking a shower or doing laundry) can contribute to basement flooding and overflows to your environment. Consider using less water in extreme weather situations.

If you know that a catch basin on your street is covered in snow, ice and debris, we’d appreciate if you could take some time to clear it. This will help make sure that rainwater can enter the storm sewer and promotes good drainage away from your neighbourhood.

Utilities Kingston urges residents to always call to report a utility emergency. Social media and email are not reliable ways to get in touch with the utility company, they stated.

  • If you see a downed power line or other life-threatening situation, call your electricity provider’s emergency line or 9-1-1.
  • Tree branches on power lines, open utility boxes and damaged hydro poles could all create serious safety risks and should be immediately reported. Call your electricity provider for the area (see list above).

More information and helpful tips can be found on the Utilities Kingston website.

Kingstonist will continue to monitor this weather situation and provide updates if/when more information becomes available.

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