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Storms and Ponds

Last Updated: 9/9/09

Rain and Flooding
Wind
Hail
Lightning
Hurricanes
Snow and Blizzards

I welcome input from others with their ideas for ponds during bad weather.


Rain and Flooding


One of the biggest storm-related problems comes from rain. A little rain, especially during a drought, is a good thing. A foot of rain over a day though can cause all sorts of problems for ponds.

The first problem involves water chemistry. Lots of rain will often lower the pH, alkalinity, and hardness of the pond, making it closer to rain water. Chemical additives can be added to bring those back up. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a quick way to bring up the alkalinity. Rain may be acidic in some areas. If the pH crashes too much during a heavy rain incident, fish may die from that.

The next problem is oxygen. Rain water is low in oxygen. If it rains too much, the oxygen level may fall to dangerous or even deadly levels. Full aeration from air stones, waterfalls, fountains, etc. should be maintained during heavy rain. If the power goes out, a battery-operated air pump or generator is a good idea. For more on rain and water in general, see my water page.

Another problem is dirt, chemicals, and debris coming into the pond from a higher level in the land. It helps to situate the pond at the high point in the yard. For prevention of dirt going into the pond and how to deal with it if it does, see this section.

The final, and perhaps biggest problem, is overflow. If there is a lot of rain, water will have to find a way out of the pond. All ponds should be built with an overflow built into them. The overflow should be made to minimize fish and other animals going downstream with the water. A grate, rocks, etc. could be associated with the overflow area. The overflow has to be at the lowest point in the edge of the pond and head to a lower grade. It is a good idea for ponds to be at the high level of the yard and not at the lower level. Even so, with really bad rain, the overflow will not be able to handle it, and water may come up over the edge of the pond, with water and associated animals going downstream. During hurricanes or other heavy rains, fish have been known to end up leaving their ponds. To help find them, float something light like a piece of plastic on the water leaving the pond if it's still flowing and follow it downstream. Otherwise, simply walk downstream searching for water with fish or stranded fish. If kept wet, koi and goldfish may live for a while after a storm washes them away.


Wind


Wind usually causes the most destruction and power outages during storms. Luckily, it is less of a problem for ponds (aside from taking out power). Sometimes debris will end up in ponds from the wind which needs to be removed. The biggest problem that results from wind is during the winter. Wind will strip a pond of its heat quickly in the winter. A pond can flash freeze when wind blows through as the temperature drops. Fish and other animals who stay near the surface may freeze into the ice. Contrary to what some people say, they cannot revive when it melts. Keep in mind that a pond may freeze quickly during high winds. While my 1800 gallon pond normally has a slowly expanding ice cover, during high wind and temperature dropping days, I have had the pond go from ice free to 90% ice covered over night. Wind may create ice quickly on an active waterfall and divert water. The wind may also interfere with de-icers. Placing boards, plastic storage tub lids, and such over the de-icer to create a pocket with no wind will help a de-icer to continue to function. For more on de-icer problems associated with wind, see my winterizing page.


Hail


It is often hard to predict hail or prepare for it. If you can, use boards, plastic storage tub lids, and so on to cover over the pond where there are floating waterlilies and other plants. The biggest problem with hail is that is puts holes in waterlily leaves and other plants. Usually, all the leaves are affected. For the health of the plants, it is best to wait until the damaged leaves show signs of rotting to remove them. By then, hopefully some undamaged leaves will have come to the surface.


Lightning


I have not heard of many lightning strikes over ponds but it certainly can happen. Lightning prefers to strike over land but may also hit right next to a small pond. All electrical outlets should have ground circuit fault interrupters to shut down the power to the pond if it is hit. Fish may be killed if the pond is struck. Fish may also be dazed so be sure they are dead before removing them. Lightning in and around the pond may destroy electrical pumps and equipment. Small amounts of natural or man-made electricity may cause fish to develop a bend in their spine. There are other causes for bent spines as well (fish tuberculosis, dietary deficiencies, physical injury, and genetic abnormalities).


Hurricanes


What to do in preparation for a hurricane:

During the hurricane, stay inside for your own safety!

After the hurricane passes:

Here is a link to a thread in my forum about Hurricane Rita in 2005:
Hurricane question

Pond Recovery After Storms


Snow and Blizzards


I follow a routine when it is snowing. This is what I do after the snow is done. If I am home, and it is daytime, and it is not too bad outside, I will do these things while it is still snowing as well.

See my pond winterizing page for more on ponds in the winter.

Read my pond newsletters for stories of my daily struggles with the ponds all year.



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