This winter’s heavier-than-normal snowfall raises the possibility that runoff from melting snow could create problems for motorists and local residents.
Ultimately, it all depends on the speed of the thaw, and the city’s Public Works department is closely monitoring developments.
“We’ll be watching for the runoff,” roadways manager Brent Kennedy said.
“Depending on how warm it gets and how quick it is, if it’s really slow warmup and the snowmelt is slower, it tends to not be too bad.
“But if it really warms up with this amount of snow, we’ll be really chasing around, making sure catch-basins are open (and) thawing out, because they tend to freeze sometimes. So that’ll be our main focus, and making sure water is running along the gutters.”
In an effort to both clear space for parking downtown and minimize anticipated flooding in spring, the city has picked up snow from busier thoroughfares and deposited it in snow dumps located elsewhere.
Physically removing snow also tends to make road upkeep easier.
“It prevents more maintenance on the asphalt,” Kennedy said. “It’s less maintenance we would have to do, otherwise, with the freeze-thaw cycle.”
Over the next three to four weeks, city crews will be concentrating on areas where flood issues are more common, such as lower lane areas where water can run across the property of homeowners.
Until the spring thaw, Prince Albert motorists will continue to depend on city crew to plow roads and ensure their accessibility.
We’ll be watching for the runoff. - Brent Kennedy
The quality of plowing, however, differs from street to street. While the city prioritizes the most frequently-used routes, shifting weather patterns also play a key role in inferior plowing.
“You’ve got to remember, in the downtown core, we pick that snow up,” Kennedy said. “So yeah, it’s always going to be a bit cleaner. When we get … outside of that area, we’re not picking snow because of the cars packing the snow down on us all the time.
“Sometimes, depending on how cold the temperature is, the graders cannot cut right through it. Then when you see this warmup … then you see the cars starting to break through, and that’s when we have to tend to go back and have to try to clean them up as the weather warms up because now the snow will peel off easier for us.”
When it comes to the onset of warmer weather, Public Works is preparing for any and all possibilities.
“It’s really going to depend on how our melt goes,” Kennedy said.
“I’ve seen snow like this a few years ago and melt was slow, and everything could handle it. But our main focus will be … more in the residential area, where we know we have some issues, and we’ve got to pick that snow and haul it out of there.”