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Climate hazards: Winter storms

Winter storms

Climate-proof your home

Download the Climate Ready Home Guide

Winter storms have the potential to damage your roof and home, and can put a lot of stress on power infrastructure. Climate projections show that winters are getting warmer and wetter. Average winter temperatures will still remain below freezing toward the end of the century. Calgary will continue to experience the high impact freezing rain events and heavy snow loads that often occur when temperatures get close to, but remain below, 0°C.

In 2014, the “Snowtember” event brought heavy snowfall in late summer. Since trees hadn’t yet shed their leaves, it damaged half the trees in the city. The heavy loading on trees and overhead infrastructure generated $17.4 million in insured costs alone.

Winter storms include

  • Snowfall events
  • Freezing rain
  • Ice storms
  • Rain-on snow events

Winter storm vulnerability

All communities within the city are equally exposed to winter storms. Consider the following questions. The more questions you answer as YES, the more vulnerable your home and property may be to winter storm damage.

Question Yes/No
Has your home ever been damaged by heavy snowfall or freezing rain?


Do you have flat or almost flat roof?


Do you have older, single-pane or low-quality windows?


Do you have a complex roof design with obstructions where snow and ice can collect?


Do you have skylights?


Is there any vegetation that overhangs your roof and contributes to blockages in roof drainage systems or that could break off and damage your roof or property?


Is your attic/roof poorly insulated? If so, snow loads on your roof can melt and cause ice damming.


How to reduce winter storm impacts

Follow some of these measures to reduce impacts to your home and property from winter storms:


  • Choose a roof structure with a steeper slope, if the building is new. Complex roof structures, and flatter roofs, can get demaged by winter storms.
  • Install a continuous underlayment of moisture or ice-and-water shield over the entire roof surface if you are building new or replacing your roof. This will protect against water and ice getting in.
  • Improve the insulation and venting of your attic to reduce risk of ice damming on your roof.
  • Refer to the Winter Maintenance Checklist to check the exterior of your home after a major snowstorm. 
  • Prune trees for structural health as required by a certified arborist.

For more information about staying safe before, during, and after a winter storm, visit What to do during a winter storm.

For more information about protecting your home and property from winter storms, refer to the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction’s Homeowner Guide: Protect Your Home From Snow and Ice Storms.

Disclaimer:  The content of the Climate Ready Home Guide is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as technical advice with respect to any particular building(s) or construction project(s). The Climate Ready Home Guide does not recommend or endorse specific products or companies. All products and measures should be installed by a professional contractor, according to manufacturer specifications and following all City Bylaws and codes.