The odd snowflake.
And what one could safely term ‘chilly’ temperatures.
It doesn’t take a weather professional to confirm old time winter has returned to Tillsonburg - and its streets.
“We’ve been uhhh… very busy,” Town of Tillsonburg Director of Operations Steve Lund understated during a brief lull shortly after noon Monday.
“It’s been a challenge, staff has done well and should be commended for their efforts.”
Lund estimated the town has experienced a two-foot dump of snow since Thursday evening. In response, snow-clearing personnel has been working the maximum allowable 12-hour shifts, before taking mandatory time off and getting back at it the next day.
“We probably haven’t seen this much snow in 20 years,” said Lund.
Accumulation is significant both in and out of town. With roads essentially cleared by midnight Saturday, Lund had hoped to have a downtown ‘snow lift’ (loading and trucking excess amounts away) beginning Monday at 1 a.m.
“We were unable to do so, because of the four inches that fell,” he said. “We react to the weather and went back to ploughing roads.”
An overnight downtown snow lift is still planned, said Lund.
“It will probably take two or three nights to complete, based on volume.”
Town budgets have benefited from lower-than-anticipated snow-removal and material costs during recent years, a happy situation not expected to be the case for 2014.
“I know we have put in a lot of overtime,” said Lund.
Material costs are also up, continued the Director of Operations, including salt, brine and sand, all of which have been used due to chilly ‘Arctic vortex’ temperatures. Salt basically loses its effectiveness around minus-11 degrees Celsius, said Lund, with organic-based brine operational until between minus 17 and minus 18.
“Usually when it gets below minus 18, we switch to sand.”
Lund says the public also deserves credit for being understanding of the challenges faced by staff, and supportive of their efforts.
“By and large, they have been patient.”
Lund encourages town residents to be respectful of the winter parking by-law, and the value of keeping vehicles off town streets during designated times.
“So we can respond quickly and more safely.”
Lund cautioned parents against the potential dangers of snow tunneling, particularly in operational areas. When the first priority of clearing roads is completed, snowplows will be ‘benching’ snowbanks, essentially dropping their wings and pushing accumulated snow further back.
If children are building snow tunnels, Lund indicated keeping them well back from the roads is an essential safety concern.