Alberta is a large, geographically diverse province that’s susceptible to extreme weather events year-round. Municipal governments have outlined some of the following perils as ones that Alberta homeowners should be especially mindful of.
Flooding is a major concern in Alberta. There’s a lot of development on the banks of the Bow and Elbow rivers, both of which flow through Calgary, so even residents of urban neighbourhoods need to be on the alert.
There are three types of floods that Albertans may be exposed to:
Overland flooding occurs when water overflows from creeks, streams, rivers or lakes. It can creep into backyards or garages, or basements, or spread into the streets. In Alberta, this happens during the spring thaw, when frozen catch basins, storm drains, and piled snow begin to thaw and melt, accelerated by spring rains.
Regions at highest risk: Most of southern Alberta. Communities that have been hard hit recently include the City of Calgary, the Municipal District of Taber, Lethbridge County, Vulcan County, Willow Creek, and Forty Creek County.
Basement seepage happens when the level of the underground water table under a home rises. Water seeps through the soil and eventually into the foundation of your home through cracks or holes or joints.
Regions at highest risk: All of Alberta — all homes are technically at risk for basement seepage.
Sewage systems can be overloaded when overland flooding occurs. It can force sewage back through the sewer line and into your basement.
Regions at highest risk: All of Alberta — anyone’s basement is at risk for sewage backup.
Increased development and urban sprawl has meant that local governments in Alberta have had to suppress naturally-occurring wildfires. This means that there’s an overabundance of old vegetation, a huge fire risk. Development paired with a changing climate means that large-scale forest fires are fast becoming a normal occurrence every summer in Alberta.
Regions at highest risk: Communities within the Boreal forest region of Alberta — which covers 58% of the entire province — are highest at risk for forest fires. Population centres include Fort McMurray and Fort Vermillion.
Alberta winters are frigid and frozen water lines and pipes are a common occurrence. Thawing pipes can burst, creating a flood risk.
Regions at highest risk: Arctic air masses deliver sub-zero temperatures to every corner of Alberta. Temperatures can dip to -46C to the south and -54C in the north.