MIRAMICHI, N.B. - This winter won't be one trucker Bruce Hall will soon forget.Hall lost the match.Environment Canada later clocked winds at the Miramichi Airport at 56 knots-an-hour, or 104 km/hr.As ...
KEEP ON PARKIN': Deep snow, like freezing rain and high winds, can create impossible working conditions, making a joke of just-in-time delivery.
MIRAMICHI, N.B. – This winter won’t be one trucker Bruce Hall will soon forget.
Hall lost the match.
Environment Canada later clocked winds at the Miramichi Airport at 56 knots-an-hour, or 104 km/hr.
As Hall passed the bridge’s peak and descended the other side, the truck tipped and began taking out guardrails and light posts as the broadside wind almost pushed his truck over the side.
When the rig came to rest on its side, Hall was hanging from his seatbelt, looking down at the frozen river through his shattered passenger window.
“The wind blew it over and I went with it, simple as that,” he says. Hall suffered only a gash to the back of his head.
High winds, torrential rain, huge dumps of snow and freezing rain caused havoc to Atlantic Canada’s trucking industry in December, and Hall wasn’t alone in his fight to do his job despite the mess outside his windshield.
The same winds blew not one, but two tractor-trailers off the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) into the Tantramar marshes near the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border.
“It is a return to normal Canadian winters,” says Environment Canada climatologist Bob Whitewood. “For the last five or so years, we have really had warmer-than-normal winters and more mild and really quite tame ones. We’ve gotten used to that a little bit,” he explains.
The calm seems to have ended with a vengeance. Saskatchewan has been hit by engine-block-freezing cold.
The TCH near Winnipeg, Man. was closed for about 10 days in December due to high winds and deep snows.
Toronto, the butt of many jokes for its “unorthodox” snow removal techniques of recent years, normally escapes severe snow and cold due to its coddled location on the northwest shore of Lake Ontario. This year however, even Canada’s most populated city hasn’t been able to escaped a long skid into winter.
“There are a lot of weather episodes that have occurred this winter that have been outstanding,” explains Whitewood. “Even Vancouver, the place that generally has nice weather when it comes to transportation, had a serious weather system come through (in December) and had some snow and high winds and lost power, the roads were gross there for a few days.”
But, he says the middle of the country has the harshest weather.
“I would say southern Manitoba has probably – when it comes to weather – gotten more the brunt of it,” says Whitewood. “They have gotten snowstorms starting in November and continuing into Christmas time. They’ve gotten quite a bit. And the colder temperatures; they have gotten some extremely cold temperatures.”
“Well, when you run into severe weather there are a number of issues,” says Bob Dolyniuk, general manager of the Manitoba Trucking Association. “Weather is hard on equipment, regardless of the type.”
Road closures – due to poor visibility or snow buildup – can be an insurmountable operating environment. To point out the truck stopping potential of drifting snow, Dolyniuk recalls a picture one Manitoba driver took of 12-foot high snow banks.
“The plow had pushed out what looked like a tunnel, except there was no roof,” he says. “And that’s our transcontinental highway system: two lanes with 10-12 foot snow banks on either side.”
“Then there is the whole service aspect of it,” says Dolyniuk. Many carriers have commitments to their customers for delivery standards and hazardous driving conditions, with car drivers floundering all about, can turn just-in-time delivery into little more than a catch phrase. Bruce Hall would no doubt agree. n