Rain, high winds, flooding and slippery road conditions — expect all three on Monday as Hurricane Sandy passes through Hamilton and southern Ontario.
It's been a wet few days in Hamilton with more than 20 millimetres of rain falling over the weekend. And there's more rain coming, says Environment Canada.
An additional 7 millimetres of rain is expected to fall throughout the day Monday. The rain is expected to intensify Monday evening with as much as 15 to 25 millimetres falling throughout the evening.
With heavier rains come higher winds on Monday.
Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for most of southern Ontario. Winds are expected to range from 40 to 60 km/h on Monday. As the storm gathers ground Monday evening, both the rain and wind are expected to intensify and winds could reach up to 100 km/h in some areas. High winds could increase the risk of power outages and falling limbs or trees.
As of 4 p.m. Monday, trails in the conservation areas will be closed until at least Wednesday, including:
Trail closures include:
- the Dofasco Trail through the Vinemount Swamp;
- the Chippawa Trail;
- the Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail;
- the Lafarge Trail in Flamborough;
- Lower Spencer Creek Trail.
The following conservation areas will be closed:
- Dundas Valley Conservation Area;
- Webster’s Falls;
- Tews Falls;
- Eramosa Karst Conservation Area.
Hamilton city officials are advising residents take extra care in securing waste items at the curb on collection day. Residents are also being advised to clear their property of items that could be tossed around by high winds.
With an excess of rain comes concern about flooding, said Darrell Smith, manager or road operations for the city of Hamilton.
"Flooding is always a major concern because it can impact roadways and residents and our water and wastewater facilities," he said.
Smith added that crews are out monitoring areas that are traditionally known to flood, including the Beach Strip and the city's east end. Crews are also clearing an excess of wet leaves from catch basins.
Hamilton city officials say the rainfall has the potential to overwhelm the sewer system and may result in basement flooding due to overland flow and system surcharge.
The city has reportedly taken steps to prepare. According to a news release, over the weekend crews inspected and cleared storm inlets and outlets, catch basins, culverts, box culverts and outfalls across the city.
If you experience basement flooding, call 905-546-2489 so the incident can be recorded. Take note whether the flooding is a result of a sewer surcharge or surface flooding.
Waste collection will continue as scheduled this week. The city is encouraging residents to set their garbage outside in the morning, to avoid any debris blowing away. The one-bag limit will be waived next week.
All sports fields and diamonds are closed until Wednesday. The city will re-evaluate opening sports facilities based on weather.
Passengers flying out of Hamilton International Airport shouldn't experience any problems.
The airport will continue to monitor the weather Monday but isn't expecting any "operational delays," said Ashley Hogan, a spokesperson for the airport.
So far, no flights have been delayed or cancelled as a result of Hurricane Sandy, she said.
Mayor Bob Bratina said all Hamiltonians should be ready for what Sandy might bring. "In the past, we've been surprised as to where there has been flooding," he told CBC Hamilton on Monday morning.
Bratina mentioned flooding on the upper Mountain in Binbrook. In late July, some residents experienced flooding in their basements.
His recommendation is to "stay tuned and get the latest info" so Hamilton knows what to expect.
"For me, the worst problems would be trees falling and power outages. For flooding, the worst would be things getting damaged in the basement," he said.
Bratina said a good place to start is clearing valuable items from the basement and then clearing out property outdoors, ensuring there is no debris in catch basins.
Bratina said the last significant storm in memory was Hurricane Hazel in 1954 that brough over 200 millimetres of rain to southern Ontario. Hamilton is expecting 50 to 75 millimetres during Hurricane Sandy.
City taking it seriously
The city is taking this weather event seriously, Bratina said.
"When I arrive at city hall at 8 a.m., my car is usually the only one in the parking lot," he said. "This morning, the staff parking lot was full."
Hamilton Conservation Authority is also monitoring the situation, said Tony Horvat, director of land management.
The authority has issued a preliminary warning of increasing creek levels. Horvat does not anticipate widespread flooding.
"It'll be local problem areas that have problems during heavy thunderstorms," he said.
The authority has also closed a number of its trails and conservation areas as of 4 p.m. Monday.
Tips to prevent flooding
To prevent flooding, the City of Hamilton says residents should keep these tips in mind:
- Clean up leaves and yard waste that are piled up in ditches, sidewalks and catch basins in front of your home. If you see larger debris on the roadway, call 905-546-2489 to have city workers remove and dispose of it in a safe manner.
- Remember to keep children and pets away from flooded areas or high level waterways.
- Identify potential home hazards and know how to secure or protect them in case of a flood. Be prepared to turn off electrical power when there is standing water.
- Turn off gas and water supplies before you evacuate.
- Clean out your eaves troughs.
- Road conditions will be slick with the steady rainfall and the city is advising drivers to proceed with caution, particularly at night when visibility may be affected during the heaviest rains and highest wind conditions.