In the wake of a heavy weekend storm, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Flood Warning for several counties in Western New York on November 24. According to the Associated Press, as much as seven feet of snow accumulated in some areas after three days of snowfall.
NWS Meteorologist Jon Hitchcock told the AP that rain and rising temperatures threatened to release "roughly the equivalent of six inches of rain" over the course of two days. Hitchcock explained that any flooding from the melting snow could be exacerbated by autumn leaves clogging storm drains. Areas near rivers or creeks will be exposed to the most risk.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been in the area to examine local flood risks and urge the public to "err on the side of caution." According to CNN, most of the travel restrictions put in place during the storm have been lifted, and the state has deployed sandbags, pumps and other equipment to mitigate the effects of urban flooding. The National Guard and New York Fire Department have both sent personnel to the flooded area.
Officials have also highlighted the risk of structural damage from wet, heavy snow accumulating on roofs. Dozens of roofs have reportedly collapsed in Erie County, and Governor Cuomo told reporters that structural engineers will need to examine schools and government offices in the area. Relative to flat roofs, pitched roofs are less vulnerable to damage from snow buildup, but fluctuating temperatures that cause snow to melt and refreeze can still cause structural damage by expanding cracks or creating "ice dams" in gutters.
With winter rapidly approaching, it is essential for insurance carriers to have up-to-date valuations for all properties in their book of business.