News

 
  • 05 Feb 2018 2:52 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/why-are-cities-treating-ice-with-pickle-juice-instead-of-salt

    It’s 2018 and Canadians are still figuring out how to deal with ice and snow accumulations.

    We can’t be faulted for effort. Statistics Canada estimates that 5 million tonnes of road salt are used each winter. 

    Even with all that salt, there’s still plenty of ice on streets and sidewalks.

    Salt, in addition to not working in the coldest of temperatures, doesn’t always stick to roads and is an important cause of corrosion. It also makes cute dogs sad. 

    That’s why cities have been experimenting with alternative substances to combat ice. Some of them, like wood chips, are sensible. Others, like beet juice or pickle brine, are amusing byproducts of local industry. 

    Winter is not yet over, and the war on ice rages on.


  • 02 Feb 2018 4:24 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    www.cbc.ca/news/toronto/road-salt-gta-water-1.4515132

    Environmental researchers in the Greater Toronto Area say road salt runoff is making some local waterways as salty as seawater.

    The salt is damaging the ecosystem, beginning to infiltrate ground water supply and has the potential to kill sensitive species, scientists warn.

    "It's really quite worrying," Carl Mitchell, an associate professor of environmental science at University of Toronto, said in an interview.

    "We're approaching ocean salt levels for certain amounts of time in some of these rivers," Mitchell told CBC Toronto.

    "You can taste it at those levels."

    Recent advances in testing technology have made it possible for scientists to track water quality in real time.

    At Credit Valley Conservation (CVC), the authority responsible for protecting the Credit River watershed, salt levels at or above that of oceans have been recorded for periods following road salting.

    Salinity is measured by tracking the chloride level of water.

    According to CVC testing, during winter months, when road salting happens, chloride levels in streams consistently exceed 5,000 milligrams per litre.

    "It's very, very high," said Amanjot Singh, a senior engineer with CVC.

    "Some of the sensitive species will die."

    Previously, researchers had to rely on "grab samples" taken directly from the water source. Now testing stations automatically send results every 15 minutes.

    On Jan. 8, soon after four centimetres of snow fell in Mississauga, the chloride level of the Cooksville Creek was 18,000 mg/litre.

    The average chloride level in oceans is 20,000 mg/liter.

    Singh has seen chloride levels above 20,000 mg/litre in GTA rivers.

    "We are worried," he said.

    And the worry doesn't go away in the spring.

    Singh says some GTA waterways, those in the most urbanized areas, never drop to what's considered a safe chloride level because of the accumulation of winter road salt in the soil and groundwater.

    As urban sprawl in the GTA pushes closer to sensitive headwaters, Singh hopes municipalities can adopt alternatives to road salt, such as beet juice, or just cope with snowier roads.

    Salt is 'cost effective'

    But slowing down a city the size of Toronto isn't that simple.

    Dominic Guthrie, a manager with the city's Winter Operations division, says road salt is the "agent" that allows residents to continue to safely move around the city in the snow.

    Elizabeth Hendriks, vice president of World Wildlife Fund Canada, says large private properties, such as big-box stores with big parking lots, contribute to the problem as well.

    "It's building up," she said. "It's suffocating fish."

    Hendriks says the high salt levels in rivers and streams are hurting many other species of wildlife, even raccoons.



  • 01 Feb 2018 8:02 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    http://www.progressiverailroading.com/short_lines_regionals/article/Wisconsin-Southern-buoys-winter-business-with-salt-propane-shipments--53815

    By Daniel Niepow, Associate Editor

    In the warmer months, the
    Wisconsin & Southern Railroad (WSOR) handles a high volume of construction materials and grain. When the cold months roll around, though, those shipments tend to slow down.

    This winter, the regional has embarked on a new business venture that's helping to offset the traffic downturn, WSOR leaders say.

    Starting in November 2017, the railroad began shipping road salt used to de-ice Wisconsin's roads, marking the first time the commodity has been railed into the state, says Jason Murphree, commercial director at
    Watco Cos. LLC, which owns the regional.

    Historically, salt has been transported to Wisconsin by ship via Lake Michigan. That salt originates in Canada and ends up at a Kinder Morgan terminal. The commodity also enters the state on barges traveling up the Mississippi River from Louisiana.

    As of early January, WSOR unloaded 20,000 tons of road salt into Watco Terminal and Port Services' (WTPS) facility in Madison, Wisconsin. The facility can store up to 80,000 tons of salt, or enough to fill about 800 rail cars,
    according to a blog post on Watco's site.

    "We don't have that same drop-off in volume in the winter that we once had because salt is moving in a higher volume," Murphree says.

    This year, WSOR expects to move about 1,500 rail cars of salt from a U.S.-based customer, which he declined to name.

    The regional, which operates more than 800 miles of track in Wisconsin and Illinois, began shipping the salt after Watco realigned its commercial group to offer both rail and transloading services as one package for customers.

    "Historically, we had transload sales people and we had railroad sales people. We would try to do some cross selling, but we didn't have direct responsibility," he explains.

    Murphree believes the realignment was a key reason WSOR landed the road salt deal. The customer wanted to ship salt into Wisconsin but had no employees in the state, so the combined rail and transloading offering made sense.

    "This is one direction I can see the industry turning toward — offering a complete package. You're going to start to see more and more railroad holding companies and railroads really
    place an emphasis on transloading," Murphree says. "You can expand your railroad right of way by 100 miles by having a transload facility in the vicinity."

    That emphasis also means learning to treat truckers as partners instead of the competition, he adds.

    WSOR continues to work with the road salt customer nationwide. The regional is considering establishing salt terminals at five locations in the United States — two additional ones in Wisconsin and three others outside the state.

    Meanwhile, to further boost its winter business, WSOR also has begun serving two new propane customers in Wisconsin.

    In a state where winter temperatures frequently dip into the single digits or fall below zero, there's healthy demand for propane to heat homes and businesses. In fact, Gov. Scott Walker
    late last year declared a state of emergency due to a propane shortage in Wisconsin.

    The state's experienced road salt shortages, too, and has even explored
    using cheese brine to de-ice roads. With the salt stored at the transload site, however, there's a "constant, year-round supply of salt, no matter what the weather is doing," Murphree says.

    WSOR's first propane customer, which is based near McFarland, Wisconsin, has been operating for about a year. That customer receives about 300 loads annually.

    The regional also has added a new customer in Waldo, Wisconsin. Each year, WSOR expects to ship around 200 to 300 tank cars to that customer, according to Watco's blog.

    Prior to these deals, the railroad had never shipped propane before. As a result, WSOR had to obtain necessary permits to handle the shipments.

    Both the propane and road salt deals stemmed from simply paying attention to customers' needs, Murphree believes.

    "I didn't pick this location where the salt facility is — our customer did," he says. "We follow our customers' lead."

  • 26 Jan 2018 3:17 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/how-canadas-addiction-to-road-salt-is-ruining-everything

    This winter, Calgary has expanded its use of beet juice as a de-icing alternative to road salt. While slightly more expensive than salt, the mixture is more efficient, less toxic and less corrosive. 

    Nevertheless, despite a galaxy of relatively benign de-icing agents such as beet juice, this year cities across Canada will stubbornly continue to coat their roads with literal mountains of salt. Although salt remains the single cheapest way to keep snow and ice at bay, the economics make much less sense when considering the awesome scale of the damage wrought every year by the salt truck

    Below is a repost of an article that first ran in January, 2017. Since it was originally published, road salt has dissolved hundreds of kilograms of automotive steel, chapped untold numbers of dog’s paws and done at least $5 billion damage to Canadian infrastructure. 

    It’s doing billions of dollars in damage to cars

    In 2015, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pegged salt corrosion as the culprit in thousands of vehicle brake failures. That same year, Transport Canada issued a recall of 3,000 BMWs and Minis that had been parked at the Port of Halifax during the 2015 ice storm. But it wasn’t the ice that caused the recall; salt de-icing had damaged the vehicles so badly that they couldn’t steer properly. Way back in 1975, Transport Canada estimated that de-icing salts were causing $200 in damage per car, per year — the equivalent of $854 in 2017. Corrosion-resistant coatings have improved in the interim, but even when one-quarter that amount is applied to the roughly 14 million registered vehicles in Ontario and Quebec, the result is an extra $3 billion in vehicle depreciation each year.

    It’s ravaging our bridges and highways

    Crews are already at work on a $4.2-billion replacement for Montreal’s Champlain Bridge. The original, built in 1962, was brought to the edge of collapse in only 50 years because of salt corrosion. Salt brine seeping into concrete dramatically speeds up the corrosion of rebar within — and is heavily responsible for the poor state of bridges and highway overpasses across central Canada. Salt was a key contributor to the deadly 2006 collapse of the De La Concorde bridge in Laval, killing six people. The heavy salt diet on Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway is also one of the main reasons the elevated highway is often raining chunks of concrete; as rebar corrodes, the concrete around it crumbles. Tellingly, a series of 1930s-era stone carvings around Toronto’s Air Canada Centre have been permanently ruined by salty runoff from the nearby expressway.

    It’s not just roads

    After the Algo Centre Mall in Ontario’s Elliot Lake collapsed in 2012, killing two people, forensic analysts said the building’s steel supports looked like they had spent decades marinating in sea water. There were structural problems, to be sure, but the building was also hammered by 30 years of salty runoff from a rooftop parking garage. Road salt was also a contributing factor to lead contamination of drinking water in Flint, Mich. Water from the Flint River — made extra salty by road salt runoff — was eating into old pipes, dosing the population with lead. In 2011, well before the Flint disaster, Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy pegged the total damage done by road salt as high as $687 CDN per tonne. In Minnesota, damage estimates ranged between $1000 CDN and $5000 CDN per tonne. Canada uses at least seven million tonnes of salt per year, according to 2009 estimates by Environment Canada. Using the Mackinac Center estimate, that’s $4.8 billion in damage per year — $1 billion more than the $3.6 billion damage caused by the Fort McMurray wildfire.

    There’s a bunch of small, annoying problems, too

    Dalhousie University estimated that it costs it an extra $15,000 in cleaning and maintenance each year just to repair all the damage salt does to floors and baseboards — with similar costs presumably accruing to most of Canada’s other universities, museums and public buildings. Salt severely corrodes leather, reducing the lifespan of Canadian shoes and requiring extra cleaning. And wading through salt is brutal on dogs’ paws: Every winter brings a new wave of chapped paw cases to Canadian vets.

    Nature’s not too happy with this, either

    Hit a moose lately? There’s a chance that they wandered onto the road in order to lick up some road salt. Sodium is quite rare in nature, which is why moose — like humans — have pretty strong salt cravings. Much of Canada’s road salts also end up on forest floors, farm fields or water systems. In 2010, a report found that Frenchman’s Bay outside Pickering, Ont., was so polluted with road salt that it had been effectively cleared of fish.

    There’s a better way

    It’s generally too cold for road salt to be effective in the Prairies, so municipalities make do with sand, plowing and — in residential areas — simply having people drive on packed snow. But, the Prairies also regularly rack up Canada’s highest rates of highway deaths. Keeping roads ice-free is generally a good thing, but there are less-corrosive alternatives: calcium magnesium acetate, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride. But with salt costing only $50 per tonne, alternatives can cost between six to 18 times. It’s a lot of money for the already overstretched de-icing budgets of Canadian cities — but potentially a bargain when the total societal costs of salt are factored in.

  • 26 Jan 2018 3:07 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-january-26-2018-1.4504277/beet-juice-and-cheese-brine-what-cities-are-spreading-on-streets-to-replace-corrosive-road-salt-1.4504293

    Salt all over the roads — it just wouldn't be a Canadian winter without it.

    In fact, we use about seven million tonnes of it each year to keep from slipping on ice and snow.

    But some experts are warning that it comes with a cost. The salt itself may be cheap, but it wreaks havoc on our roads, bridges, cars, and the environment. As salt corrodes metal, it has caused as much as $5 billion in damage to infrastructure in Canada, and is responsible for $3 billion in vehicle depreciation each year in Quebec and Ontario alone.

    Some cities are trying to solve the problem by using beet juice, or cheese brine.

    Salt also runs off the roads with the melted ice, and ends up in rivers, lakes and streams, causing damage to freshwater ecosystems, where increasing concentrations can harm reproduction of some types of animals or even kill them if it's high enough.

    Lake Simcoe, north of Toronto, has seen salt levels rising more quickly in recent years due to road salt use, said David Lembcke, manager of environmental science and monitoring for the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. Salt is also starting to get into our groundwater, which is often used as a drinking water source, he said.

    "That's the real challenge with salt, it loves water," Lembcke tells The Current's guest host Gillian Findlay. "Once it gets in water, there's just about nothing that gets it out of water… Really, when it comes to stopping it going in, it's stopping putting it down in the first place."

    There have even been cases of saltwater animals now living in Canada's freshwater ecosystems, because of the increased salt levels.

    "These are completely different ecosystems," said Lembcke. "It would be like finding a polar bear in the jungle."

    Lembcke is trying to persuade cities to use less salt. But Norm Parkes, the executive director of highway operations for B.C., said that though he's very aware of the downsides of salt — his organization keeps an eye on resulting infrastructure damage — it's hard to find replacements.

    "Salt is one of the most cost-effective ways of keeping traction and keeping our roads safe and of course safety is our number one priority," said Parkes. "You never know with innovation so never say never, but I think there will always be, in the short term, a place for the good use of salt and the judicious use of salt."

    Some areas are turning to innovative solutions. Calgary and some parts of B.C. are testing out beet juice as an alternative, and Wisconsin is spreading cheese brine on their roads.

    What all of these products have in common is that they melt the ice — but that's not necessary, said Stephen Coates, president of Earth Innovations. Their product Ecotraction, made from a volcanic mineral, sticks to the top of the ice without melting it, giving the ice the texture of sandpaper and providing traction.

    Coates said Ecotraction is more expensive than salt, but that less of it is needed to stop slips and slides. Plus, it stays in place even if the ice melts and refreezes with the weather. It also doesn't cause the expensive damage to infrastructure, he said.

    Mississauga, Ontario, is using the product in a pilot project in parks and pedestrian areas. But it's hard to shake the public from the idea that ice has to melt to make roads and sidewalks safe, said Coates.

    "That of course for us, on the marketing and advertising side, has been the big problem," Coates tells Findlay. "We're in a product category in stores that's called ice melters — and the one thing that we don't do is melt ice."

  • 22 Jan 2018 1:11 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/how-canada’s-addiction-to-road-salt-is-ruining-everything/ar-AAv1Iuo?li=AA521o&ocid=spartanntp

    This winter, Calgary has expanded its use of beet juice as a de-icing alternative to road salt. While slightly more expensive than salt, the mixture is more efficient, less toxic and less corrosive. 

    Nevertheless, despite a galaxy of relatively benign de-icing agents such as beet juice, this year cities across Canada will stubbornly continue to coat their roads with literal mountains of salt. Although salt remains the single cheapest way to keep snow and ice at bay, the economics make much less sense when considering the awesome scale of the damage wrought every year by the salt truck. 

    Below is a repost of an article that first ran in January, 2017. Since it was originally published, road salt has dissolved hundreds of kilograms of automotive steel, chapped untold numbers of dog’s paws and done at least $5 billion damage to Canadian infrastructure. 

    It’s doing billions of dollars in damage to cars

    In 2015, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration pegged salt corrosion as the culprit in thousands of vehicle brake failures. That same year, Transport Canada issued a recall of 3,000 BMWs and Minis that had been parked at the Port of Halifax during the 2015 ice storm. But it wasn’t the ice that caused the recall; salt de-icing had damaged the vehicles so badly that they couldn’t steer properly. Way back in 1975, Transport Canada estimated that de-icing salts were causing $200 in damage per car, per year — the equivalent of $854 in 2017. Corrosion-resistant coatings have improved in the interim, but even when one-quarter that amount is applied to the roughly 14 million registered vehicles in Ontario and Quebec, the result is an extra $3 billion in vehicle depreciation each year.

    It’s ravaging our bridges and highways

    Crews are already at work on a $4.2-billion replacement for Montreal’s Champlain Bridge. The original, built in 1962, was brought to the edge of collapse in only 50 years because of salt corrosion. Salt brine seeping into concrete dramatically speeds up the corrosion of rebar within — and is heavily responsible for the poor state of bridges and highway overpasses across central Canada. Salt was a key contributor to the deadly 2006 collapse of the De La Concorde bridge in Laval, killing six people. The heavy salt diet on Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway is also one of the main reasons the elevated highway is often raining chunks of concrete; as rebar corrodes, the concrete around it crumbles. Tellingly, a series of 1930s-era stone carvings around Toronto’s Air Canada Centre have been permanently ruined by salty runoff from the nearby expressway.

    It’s not just roads

    After the Algo Centre Mall in Ontario’s Elliot Lake collapsed in 2012, killing two people, forensic analysts said the building’s steel supports looked like they had spent decades marinating in sea water. There were structural problems, to be sure, but the building was also hammered by 30 years of salty runoff from a rooftop parking garage. Road salt was also a contributing factor to lead contamination of drinking water in Flint, Mich. Water from the Flint River — made extra salty by road salt runoff — was eating into old pipes, dosing the population with lead. In 2011, well before the Flint disaster, Michigan’s Mackinac Center for Public Policy pegged the total damage done by road salt as high as $687 CDN per tonne. In Minnesota, damage estimates ranged between $1000 CDN and $5000 CDN per tonne. Canada uses at least seven million tonnes of salt per year, according to 2009 estimates by Environment Canada. Using the Mackinac Center estimate, that’s $4.8 billion in damage per year — $1 billion more than the $3.6 billion damage caused by the Fort McMurray wildfire.

    There’s a bunch of small, annoying problems, too

    Dalhousie University estimated that it costs it an extra $15,000 in cleaning and maintenance each year just to repair all the damage salt does to floors and baseboards — with similar costs presumably accruing to most of Canada’s other universities, museums and public buildings. Salt severely corrodes leather, reducing the lifespan of Canadian shoes and requiring extra cleaning. And wading through salt is brutal on dogs’ paws: Every winter brings a new wave of chapped paw cases to Canadian vets.

    Nature’s not too happy with this, either

    Hit a moose lately? There’s a chance that they wandered onto the road in order to lick up some road salt. Sodium is quite rare in nature, which is why moose — like humans — have pretty strong salt cravings. Much of Canada’s road salts also end up on forest floors, farm fields or water systems. In 2010, a report found that Frenchman’s Bay outside Pickering, Ont., was so polluted with road salt that it had been effectively cleared of fish.

    There’s a better way

    It’s generally too cold for road salt to be effective in the Prairies, so municipalities make do with sand, plowing and — in residential areas — simply having people drive on packed snow. But, the Prairies also regularly rack up Canada’s highest rates of highway deaths. Keeping roads ice-free is generally a good thing, but there are less-corrosive alternatives: calcium magnesium acetate, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride. But with salt costing only $50 per tonne, alternatives can cost between six to 18 times. It’s a lot of money for the already overstretched de-icing budgets of Canadian cities — but potentially a bargain when the total societal costs of salt are factored in.

    Advertisement


  • 17 Jan 2018 2:00 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/climate-watch/oversalted-why-ontario-needs-a-new-approach-to-snow-removal

    Nobody knows how blue crabs got into Toronto’s Mimico Creek, but the more interesting question is how some of them survived in it.

    The blue crab is a saltwater creature, yet six apparently healthy ones were found in the freshwater creek in 2011. And while the water wasn’t salty enough for them to breed, it made for comfortable living. The crabs’ survival illustrates a growing problem for Ontario’s waterways: the excessive salting of roads, sidewalks, and parking lots has contaminated rivers, streams, and lakes.

    Road salt is a necessary evil, effective in deicing roads, sidewalks, and parking lots, and in improving safety at certain temperatures. But in Ontario, it’s common to use much more than necessary, which leads to crunchy sidewalks and runoff that makes lakes and rivers saltier.

    “We could probably reduce the amount of salt we’re applying by at least 25 per cent,” says Tim Van Seters, senior manager with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. “We’re not going to get rid of it altogether. That’s not realistic to think — but we could certainly reduce it much more by putting in the right safeguards.”

    Salt pollution does much more than provide habitable waters for strange creatures. Increased salinity is harmful to many freshwater organisms, right down to the tiny invertebrates that underpin the entire food chain. Salt is also bad for many native plants and can contaminate groundwater.

    Van Seters has been watching Toronto’s rivers and creeks since 2002, when he started working as the water-quality coordinator for the TRCA. The authority monitors chlorides across the watershed (the chloride part of salt is what causes problems). Guidelines state that chronic exposure to chloride in freshwater streams is concerning above 120 milligrams per litre, and acute exposure above 640 milligramts per litre. Mimico Creek regularly tests above 25,000 milligrams per litre in the winter, according to Van Seters. (By comparison, seawater contains roughly 35,000 milligrams per litre.)

    But salt doesn’t only cause problems in winter, Van Seters says: chlorides can build up in groundwater and stormwater reservoirs, leading to year-round waterway contamination.

    Environment Canada completed a five-year study in 2001 that concluded road salt should be added to its list of toxic substances, although the department did not actually ban the use of road salt. It also stated that any measures taken in response to the study should be “based on optimization of winter road maintenance practices so as not to jeopardize road safety, while minimizing the potential for harm to the environment .”

    While provincial and municipal crews can be directed by policy, much snow removal is done by private contractors, which makes it difficult to monitor and control how much salt is applied to Ontario’s roads.

    “There’s quite a lot of parking lots in the GTA, and a huge amount of salt is applied to those areas. Anyone can go out in a truck, put salt in the back of their truck and spread it in whatever quantities they want,” says Van Seters. “There’s no regulation as to how that’s done, and there really should be. There should be some kind of certification or some kind of licensing requirement just as there is for pesticides or anything that might be toxic.”

    Van Seters says new salt-spreading equipment could also help: automated spreaders are capable of moderating the amount of salt laid down and can help contractors monitor their application rates.

    New Hampshire was the first U.S. state to use rock salt (that is, sodium chloride) on its roads, and it’s ahead of the curve when it comes to moderating use of the stuff, although it hasn’t turned to licensing. Instead, the state’s Department of Environmental Services offers Green SnowPro training for snow removal contractors; those who take it are protected against liability to slip-and-fall claims.

    “What we heard from the contractors is that it was very challenging for them to reduce given the liability concerns. One of the reasons they put down so much salt is to prevent liability in a slip-and-fall case,” says Ted Diers, administrator in the Department of Environmental Services’ water division. “What we did was we wrote a bill for our legislature that would give limited liability relief for people that have gone through our Green SnowPro training program.”

    If someone slips on a parking lot full of salt drifts, it’d be tough to argue that the landowner had been negligent. But more visible salt doesn’t necessarily mean more safety — especially if temperatures are cold enough to render it ineffective (sodium chloride works only between 0 C and -7 C).

    “Because putting salt down increases your safety, the assumption is that the more salt down, the more safety you’ll get — and that’s simply not true,” says Bill Thompson, manager of integrated watershed management with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority. “There’s a point beyond which putting more salt down doesn’t actually increase safety. It’s a waste of money. It’s an impact on the environment. And in some cases, it may cause pavement to become slipperier ... When you’ve got really high amounts of salt on some sidewalks you feel like you’re walking on marbles.”

    The conservation authority has worked with Smart About Salt — which began as a joint initiative between Landscape Ontario and the Region of Waterloo — to train some 200 area contractors in how to reduce their use of road salt safely. Thompson says the authority is also watching the New Hampshire situation closely, to see how well the legislation works. For now, though, it’s focused on education.

    A major part of the solution, says Lee Gould, executive director of Smart About Salt, is to educate people about winter safety gear and change their attitudes toward snow and ice. Snow tires and boots with good traction, for example, make slippery surfaces safer — and undercut the expectation that pavement should be visible 365 days a year.

    “There needs to be a lot of things that change. There needs to be a change in attitude and culture in terms of how we view winter so we’re taking the necessary precautions — snow tires, sensible footwear,” says Gould. “I think the expectation of having bare tarmac is unfortunate.”


  • 17 Jan 2018 8:51 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    http://fox6now.com/2018/01/10/we-energies-more-than-3000-without-power-in-milwaukee-racine-counties/


    According to We Energies, the combination of fog mixed with the abundant amount of road salt on area roadways sparked 12 utility pole fires. Officials say the combination can cause the electrical lines to heat up — sparking a fire.

    The We Energies Power Outage Map, as of about 12:10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 10, was showing more than 700 without power in the Milwaukee area.

    Anyone can monitor the outages in southeast Wisconsin with the We Energies Outage Map. Officials say that map updates every 15 minutes.


  • 13 Jan 2018 7:28 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/flash-freeze-warning-ends-ottawas-brief-taste-of-spring

    The brief, two-day January thaw came to a bone-chilling end Friday afternoon.

    Ottawa residents who woke up to a balmy 11 C Friday morning found themselves driving home that afternoon through a mix of snow, freezing rain and ice pellets, with the temperature plunging to a low of -15 C.

    Environment Canada had the area under a “flash freeze” warning Friday and by Saturday night, the mercury was predicted to be down to a polar-like -26 C.

    “It’s a pretty dramatic swing in temperature,” acknowledged Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson.

    After a couple of days of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, a mass of frigid Arctic air swept in “and the door slammed shut,” he said.

    “We’re seeing another Arctic air mass and it’s another dominant one. We’ve got cold warnings out in the Prairies, cold warnings in northern Ontario. It’s not necessarily the depth of cold that we dealt with last week, but it’s still certainly well below normal.”

    Ottawa should escape the heavier snowfall expected to the south, however. Kingston and Cornwall could see up to 20 cm of snow, whereas Coulson expects Ottawa’s accumulation will be between five and 10 cm by the time the snow ends around mid-day Saturday.

    About 300 to 400 City of Ottawa plows and salters were set to hit the street Friday, their task complicated somewhat by the deep pools and puddles in many areas. City workers — and many private citizens — worked Friday to clear ice-clogged catch basins to drain the flooding.

    “Today is a bit of a challenge because we have a lot of standing water on the roadways,” said Bryden Denyes, the city’s area manager for core roads. “We’re doing our best to ensure we get most of that off the road … The quick temperature drop does pose a challenge, but staff are monitoring that.”

    Road salt loses its effectiveness at temperatures below -18 C. In that case, the city pre-soaks the salt which kickstarts the melting process, and adds grit to the mix that can help with traction.

    Driving could be pretty rough on some smaller side streets when ridges of slush are frozen solid by the deep freeze. The city will use road graders if necessary to scrape the ridges away, Denyes said.

    The thaw also has created dangerous and unstable ice conditions on waterways, warns the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. 

    In some areas, the thaw has led to an ice break up, which raises the potential of downstream ice jams and flooding. In other areas, rain and meltwater has pooled on the surface, and though that will soon refreeze when the temperature plummets, it will take several days of cold weather before the ice is safe enough to walk on again, the conservation authority warns.

    The rapid temperature fluctuation isn’t just hard on people and drivers. Buildings and roads take a beating, too.

    Small foundation cracks can quickly widen with repeated freeze-thaw cycles, which is why it’s important to do regular maintenance and patch them, Coulson said.

    “In terms of pipes freezing, we are getting into some pretty cold temperatures by Saturday night and Sunday morning. It’s certainly something to be aware of. The number of freeze-thaw cycles we’ve gone through in the last few days, we’ve got a lot of water main breaks — a lot more than we saw last year, which was a notably milder winter,” he said.

    The temperature will stay low into next week, with daytime highs of around -10 C and overnight lows dipping to -16 C.

    bcrawford@postmedia.com

    Twitter.com/getBAC


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