Thaw poses threat of flooding

Nanaimo’s public works crews survived the first blast of winter in 2012.

Nanaimo’s public works crews survived the first blast of winter in 2012, but it’s not over yet.

With snow and freezing temperatures all week, crews were working around the clock to keep transportation routes clear.

“I thought staff did a great job,” said Brian Denbigh, manager of roads and traffic services. “Every time we go through these experiences we learn a little more.”

With daytime temperatures only reaching -4 C and dropping to -7 C overnight, ice was the biggest threat to motorists.

“We had about 15 centimetres of snow that froze after vehicles packed it down,” said Denbigh. “And the colder the temperatures, the more ineffective the salt becomes.  At about minus 10 or colder we start adding sand to the salt for traction, but we didn’t get there.”

Environment Canada weather forecasts are for rain through Thursday (Jan. 26) and Denbigh said that poses another problem.

“Right now the ground is still frozen and if we get any amount of rain, that could lead to flooding,” he said. “We’re asking residents if they have a catch basin near their property to make sure it’s clear of snow.”

The city has a $600,000 budget for snow and ice removal in 2012 and while hardly making a dent in it so far, Denbigh anticipates more winter to come.

“I suspect we’ll get one more Arctic outflow this year,” he said. “We’re way under budget right now, but we’ll see.”