Many people are being forced to take their vehicle brushes and shovels back out after a blast of winter hit southern Saskatchewan, including Regina.
Environment Canada said the city was hit with three to five centimetres Sunday evening and into Monday morning.
When the snow finally stopped, many people started to shovel their driveways and sidewalks.
“I was surprised with the depth of the snow,” said Garry Barkwell, who was clearing snow along Windfield Road in the east end, dressed in his full winter gear.
But that’s where his shock ended.
“We don’t get snow in July and that’s about the only month we don’t get snow.”
Just down the street another man out shoveling said it took him two hours to clear out his driveway, though he still had a smile on his face in light of the work.
Ian Smith seemed to have a positive attitude as well as he was also busy with the shovel near 7th Avenue North.
“This is exercise and I need it,” he conceded.
City of Regina crews out
While the city’s road maintenance department was focused on spring operations — such as street sweeping and filling potholes — many of their trucks are still outfitted for winter.
“In terms of being ready to take on what we received, it was a pretty standard process…everybody’s trained, the equipment was still available. It was just a matter of changing the assignments as we saw what had taken place overnight,” explained Chris Warren, manager of winter maintenance.
Warren said they were aware of the forecast and that snow was on its way. However, the amount of snow the city ended up getting was not exactly what they were anticipating.
“The reality was is that we received probably double the amount of snow that we were expecting. It accumulated and it started to cause some problems,” he said.
The morning shift started at 6:30 a.m. Monday according to Warren and plows first hit the streets around 7:30 a.m. He said salt is the best tool in circumstances like these.
“It’ll prevent that ice from forming and any ice that had formed it’ll burn it off so to speak, so basically everything is turned to water and slush as we get that salt on the streets.”
Highways getting attention
The most important aspect of salt being laid on roads is the when.
“The unfortunate part is that road salt isn’t really effective in those conditions until the snow stops falling because you’re just creating more melt water and more slush and more ice,” said Doug Wakabayashi with the Ministry of Highways.
He said the conditions were ideal for making ice, the perfect “recipe” for it to be slippery out. Wakabayashi said the first snow that fell basically melted as soon as it hit the warm pavement. New snow then fell on that melt water and stuck to the road, creating slush. As the temperature dipped overnight that slush turned to ice.
Provincial crews are also out attending to highways. He said the same equipment used for patching potholes in the spring is used for winter maintenance too.
“It does take some time to travel back to a depot and attach the plow and take on a load of salt or sand but it’s something that can be done relatively quickly.”
Both city and provincial crews will be closely monitoring conditions throughout the day and into Tuesday morning to see if they’re needed. Warren said the city’s ice control trucks will be ready should roads turn slick overnight. If crews aren’t required, they’ll be redirected back to their regular duties for this time of year.