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  • 17 Nov 2019 2:33 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    How can we be less salty during the winter? 

    We need to find a balance between public safety and environmental safety. Road salt is only effective between 0 and –10 degrees, so if it’s too cold, it does nothing but contaminate the environment. Salt is only for ice, not snow removal, and can be used sparingly — about 2.5 tablespoons can clear a square metre! 

    Shoveling your property and keeping drains clear can help prevent icy conditions, and clearing areas you use daily, like a walkway or driveway, is better than clearing your entire property. This automatically reduces the amount of road salt you’re using during the winter. 

  • 12 Nov 2019 7:18 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Leave plenty of space when passing a snow plow — portions of the plow and blade may be obscured by blowing snow

    about 14 hours ago By: NewmarketToday Staff

    Snow plow blade

    File photo/Village Media

    Environment Canada is forecasting up to 10 to 15 centimetres of snow into this evening.

    The Regional Municipality of York reminds residents to slow down and give yourself extra time and space going to your destinations when driving in winter weather.

    York Region is responsible for the maintenance of approximately 1,200 kilometres (or more than 4,200 lane-kilometres) of roadways across all nine cities and towns. During the winter months, this includes snow plowing, snow removal, sanding, salting and the use of salt-brine to help prevent ice buildup on roads.

    Road conditions are monitored 24-hours-a-day to ensure roads are safe and passable in winter conditions. York Region uses a road weather information system to track rain, snow and ice and GPS tracking to maximize the effectiveness of the winter maintenance fleet before, during and after winter storms. In addition, patrol vehicles are equipped with sensors to gauge the temperature of the road surface to better identify when roads may need to be treated.

    All snow plow vehicles are equipped with electronic spreader controls to help ensure the right amount of anti-ice materials are released at the right time and in the right place, minimizing impacts of salt to the environment.

    During winter road conditions, motorists should:

    • If you are driving, drive according to conditions and give yourself extra time to get to your destination
    • Have winter tires on your vehicle
    • Clear snow, ice and frost from all windows, headlights, taillights and roof
    • Make sure your windshield fluid and vehicle fuel is topped up
    • Carry a roadside emergency kit
    • Let us do the driving by taking YRT
    • Follow York Region on Twitter for road updates
    • Slow down and respect pedestrian’s crossing the road 
    If you travelling, please give snowplows plenty of room by:
    • Driving a safe distance behind the snowplow; you may see them but they may not see you if you are following too closely
    • Only passing snow removal vehicles when a safe passing area is available and the lane is clear of snow or treated with salt or sand; do not pass on the right
    • When passing a plow, be sure to leave plenty of space; plows are wider than most vehicles and portions of the plow and blade may be obscured by blowing snow
    • Not travelling beside a plow; they can shift sideways after moving snowdrifts.

  • 11 Nov 2019 7:55 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    NEW YORK, Nov. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Colder temperatures, freezing rain, ice, snow, road salt and potholes are just some of the challenges that can impact drivers getting from point A to point B safely this winter. Today, iconic tiremaker Pirelli kicks off a 44-day campaign, #Below44, designed to educate consumers on why winter tires are critical for anyone who lives in an environment where the temperature regularly drops below 44oF.

    While many drivers believe the need for winter tires is based on precipitation and the ability to maneuver in the snow, in reality, temperature is the first and most important deciding factor. This is because the rubber in tires is formulated with specific compounds to perform well in different conditions — and cold is an important issue. Winter tires use different rubber formulations that stay soft below 44oF degrees to improve their ability to maintain grip on a cold road surface – wet or dry.

    The campaign, which includes daily tips and myth busters, an expert Q&A and a consumer rebate offer, will address the many misconceptions that consumers have about winter tires versus all-season tires and the importance of a tire made with a winter compound regardless of whether or not the driver is operating an all-wheel drive vehicle.  

    "There are two reasons why we recommend consumers who live in colder climates switch over to true winter tires," said Ian Coke, Head of R&D, Pirelli North America. "The first is because tires are made of rubber compounds that respond to extreme temperatures and become stiffer as temperatures decrease. This stiffness can significantly reduce the traction levels of the tire tread – the part of the tire that makes direct contact with the road surface – and compromise the tire's overall performance and a driver's safety. As the temperature continues to drop the performance level of the tire will also continue to be impacted."

    Winter storms, bad weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter.1 Yet in areas where winter tires are mandatory, like Canada, there has been a significant reduction in wintertime serious accident rates, with accidents in Montreal dropping by 46 percent, for example. Moreover, 80 percent of winter tire owners believe that a vehicle equipped with winter tires has saved them from being involved in a potentially hazardous driving situation.2

    The Pirelli Pro Guide: Winter launches today and offers resources for consumers looking to learn more about winter tires: How do I know if I need them? Are they safer? What should I look for in a winter tire? The guide will also address common misperceptions such as the fact that driving an all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicle has nothing to do with the grip your tires have on the road.

    Another misperception is that winter tires and snow tires are one and the same. Originally, tire manufacturers offered a snow tire that had a more aggressive tread pattern designed to cut into snow. Many people still use the term snow tire – but today, tire companies no longer offer such a product. As chemistry and production have become more sophisticated, so have tires. The snow tire has replaced by the winter tire. The difference is a tread designed to grip both snow and ice and remain supple in cold conditions.

    Pirelli performs Research & Development both independently and with most of the major auto manufacturers around the world. In fact, the tiremaker offers more than 2,300 tires that are "marked," in other words developed in partnership with the manufacturer for optimum performance for a specific vehicle. That same technology, and key learnings during the process, transfer over to replacement tires as well, including summer, winter and all-season tires.

    To learn more, visit our website and follow along for daily #Below44 updates @pirelliusa.

    Pirelli Communications and Media Relations – North America:
    Maria Stella Narciso • 1 762 235 9179 •

    1 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
    2 Tire & Rubber Association of Canada, 2018 Canadian Consumer Winter Tire Study

  • 11 Nov 2019 7:51 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Sunday offered just a small glimpse into what's in store for southern and eastern Ontario Monday, when the main story will unfold. A cold front moving in from the U.S. will bring significant amounts of snowfall across much of the region. Snowfall warnings are in place from the western GTA to Niagara region, some of which could receive the largest amounts ever for this early in the season. For the timing of the snowfall, a look at snowfall records for November, as well as what's ahead for the rest of the month, read below.

    a map of a large body of water © Provided by Pelmorex Media Inc.

    While southern Ontarians should expect an extra slow and slick commute Monday morning, the afternoon/evening drive will be a nightmare as the heaviest bands of snow will fall during this time, along with a drop in temperatures. This could cause slush to freeze on the roads.

    The significant storm rolling in is courtesy of a low-pressure system south of the Great Lakes. It will spread snow across southwestern areas beginning in the pre-dawn hours and will pick up across the western GTA and Niagra area by late morning.

    a close up of a map: ONsnow © Provided by Pelmorex Media Inc. ONsnow

    Snowfall totals across most of the GTA will hit the 10 to 15+ cm range, but areas towards Hamilton may see 15-20+ cm and the Niagara region will receive 20-25+ cm as a result of lake-effect enhancement. Travel will be particularly difficult near these areas.

    Parts of eastern Ontario -- from Kingston to south of Ottawa and along the Quebec border -- could see 10 to 20 cm through Monday.

    a map of the water: ONGTASnow (1) © Provided by Pelmorex Media Inc. ONGTASnow (1)

    Areas north of the GTA including cottage country and the Ottawa area will see lesser amounts in the 5 to 10 cm range. While people in these areas will have a easier morning commute than southern communities, travel during the afternoon/evening hours will be impacted.


    a screenshot of a cell phone: ONSnowRecord (1) © Provided by Pelmorex Media Inc. ONSnowRecord (1)

    While Monday's snowfall will just crack the the top 10 of the highest amounts of the white stuff ever recorded at Pearson International Airport in all of November -- with a good chance of making the top 5 -- there's the potential for it to receive the highest amount this early in the season (on or prior to Nov. 11).

    a screenshot of a cell phone: ONsnowrecord © Provided by Pelmorex Media Inc. ONsnowrecord

    The current No.1 spot belongs to a Nov. 6, 1951 storm that dropped 13.2 cm of snow on the airport.


    Behind the system, north winds will set the lake-effect machine back in motion from Monday night through early Wednesday. Intense squalls may impact travel southeast of Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, including areas near London and Collingwood.

    For those who don't see another round of snow, those north winds will also bring a taste of January-like temperatures to southern Ontario, with highs nearly 10 degrees below average for many.

    Although the cold pattern looks to relax at times during late November, overall, the chilly weather is set to dominate right through the end of the month.

    Be sure to check back through the weekend for your latest forecast updates.

  • 12 Oct 2019 1:08 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Winter storms and blizzards sound very similar but there's one key difference -- visibility.

    Blizzard warnings are issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada when visibility is 400 metres or less due to falling or blowing snow for at least four hours.

    There is no minimum expected snowfall requirement for a blizzard, meaning these warnings can be issued when no new snow is falling.

    There are times when snowfall from the day before will blow around furiously in strong winds and if it is reducing visibility to less than 400 metres, a blizzard warning is warranted.

    Winter storm warnings are more flexible in their description.

    These warnings can be put in place for a few different reasons but their most common is when there is significant snowfall expected combined with potentially hazardous weather of a different kind such as freezing rain, strong winds, blowing snow or an extreme wind.

    They can also be issued for a major snowfall (25 cm or more in a 24 hour period) or when potential blizzard conditions are expected.

    For a list of all the warning criteria from Environment and Climate Change Canada, click here.

  • 06 Oct 2019 8:16 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    October 6, 2019 — Nissan Altima rear lower control arm failures are under investigation in Canada after complaints were filed about components that corroded and fractured.

    Transport Canada opened the investigation into 2013-2014 Altimas after receiving 17 complaints in the past 11 months.

    Canadian investigators are looking into claims the rear lower control arms suffer from premature corrosion that causes the control arms to separate from their attachment points. As can be imagined, the problem seems to be worse in areas where road salt is used due to icy road conditions.

    In addition, some Altima owners claim they had trouble controlling the cars once the control arms failed. However, Canadian regulators aren't aware of any crashes caused by the fractures.

    Although the 2013-2014 Nissan Altima lower control arm investigation is ongoing, the automaker did announce a rear lower control arm replacement program for about 8,000 model year 2013-2014 Altimas in Canada. And in the U.S., the replacement program includes about 173,000 model year 2013 Nissan Altimas in 22 states and the District of Columbia.

    The same month Canadian regulators opened their control arm investigation, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expanded its own investigation into 2 million Altimas.

    About 140 U.S. complaints have been filed by Nissan Altima owners about the rear lower control arms, especially in areas where road salt is applied in the winter months.

    Input from Nissan shows there have been Altima drivers who complained about control arms outside areas where road salt is often used, but the automaker says those complaints are limited.

    Nissan also claims separated lower control arms allegedly won't make contact with braking components or the roads, leaving drivers with the ability to safely stop the cars.

    Canadian Nissan Altima owners who want to learn more about the rear lower control arm replacement program may call 855-835-3854.

    And if you're a Canadian owner of a 2013-2014 Nissan Altima and believe your car has suffered rear lower control arm problems, please let Transport Canada know by calling 800-333-0510 or by visiting Transport Canada's website.

    Nissan Altima Complaints - 2013 / 2014 / All model years

  • 03 Oct 2019 12:46 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    We know it’s not winter quite yet and while we still have a few solid weeks left of fall, Old Man Winter is slowly approaching us. While we can hope for a late winter, we never really know when snow is going to fall. The B.C. government recognizes this and is making it mandatory for vehicles in B.C. to have winter tires on as of today. The new winter tire fines are over $100 so you might want to book an appointment to get your winter tires on.

    Winter is off to an early start in some provinces. Lately, parts of Alberta have been seeing so much snow that areas have even been issued winter storm warnings.

    Thankfully, nothing like that is in the forecast for B.C. in the foreseeable future. That being said, we do have to be preparing for winter somehow

    In order to get us ready, the B.C. government has issued a statement saying that as of October 1, 2019, people in B.C. will need to have winter tires on their vehicles. 

    The government knows that this may not be necessary for places like Vancouver. That is why drivers who are in or travelling to certain parts of the province will need to equip their vehicles with winter tires. 

    According to the B.C. government, if you do not comply with the regulation, you could face a fine of $109. 

    According to a press release by the provincial government, an appropriate winter tire is defined as one with either the “M+S or mountain/snowflake symbol” and is in good condition. They also need to have a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm. 

    The tires marked with a mountain or snowflake symbol on them will be the best for traction on snow, ice, and in cold weather. 

    The tires marked with M+S, on the other hand, will offer better traction than summer tires but are less effective than the mountain and snowflake tires. 

    All drivers in B.C. are encouraged to choose their tires based on the region and conditions in which they regularly drive. 

    Officials have stated that winter tires are not mandatory province-wide, however, they are required on most B.C. highways.

    On March 31, 2020, winter tire regulations will come to an end on many highways. There is the potential for some regulations to extend until April 30, 2020, on select mountain passes and highways.

    Weather in the mountains has the ability to change suddenly. Be sure to check DriveBC before hitting the road. Visit shift into winter for more details and for help on staying safe on the rad.

  • 30 Sep 2019 6:58 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    CALGARY – A snowfall warning has been issued for Calgary on Sunday morning as a storm is expected to continue through the day, resulting in accumulations between 15 to 25 centimetres in the city.

    Environment Canada issued the advisory at about 4:30 a.m., saying heavy snow is expected to continue in Calgary and will proceed north and northwest through the day.

    The agency says the snowfall is expected to stop sometime Monday afternoon.

    Drivers in the City of Calgary are advised to adjust driving with the weather as many roads and highways are slippery and difficult to navigate given the conditions.

    A number of crashes have also been reported throughout the city, including a five-vehicle crash on Stoney Trail late Saturday evening.

    Tara Norton-Merrin, spokesperson for the City of Calgary roads department, says they had lots of warning for this storm last week, so were well prepared with all their equipment to clear roads properly.

    "Right now, we have upwards of about 60 pieces of equipment on the road. We've also called in extra crews for tonight and some contractors so we'll have more than that overnight."

    Most of the major routes in Calgary are wet and crews are able to use salt to accelerate melting, she says.

    "We are asking people to slow down and take their time but they should have a pretty easy drive today."

    Norton-Merrin says they are working on a seven-day snow clearing plan, so the focus is on the main routes, those that have 20,000 vehicles or more per day, at this time. Once those are cleared and under control, plows will then move to other roads.

    Conditions on highways elsewhere in Alberta aren't much better either, as 511 Alberta reports snowfalls throughout the south.

    It also advised drivers to avoid travel on the Trans-Canada Highway in and around Brooks and Medicine Hat on Sunday afternoon as the route, along with several other highways, were in extremely poor condition.

    RCMP in the area say due to blowing snow, visibility has dropped to about 100 metres and multiple collisions have occurred as a result.

    Highway 1 west of Calgary isn't much better either, as 511 Alberta reported multiple crashes on the highway, including a jack-knifed semi tractor-trailer near Dead Man's Flats that is blocking traffic.

    The storm is also causing problems at the Calgary International Airport, where just over a dozen departing flights were cancelled on Sunday morning.

    Warnings are also in place for a number of other communities in southern Alberta, but the very southwestern portion of Alberta is expected to get the worst of it, as nearly 100 centimetres of snow is predicted to fall in that area.

  • 20 Sep 2019 7:54 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Road salt is used to keep roads clear in the winter but a researcher says municipalities should reduce the amount used due to the impact on local lakes. (Rhianna Schmunk/CBC)


    An expert on road salt and its effect on waterways says municipalities need to start finding ways to reduce how much salt is used on roads in the winter.

    Queen's University professor Shelley Arnott will be speaking about the topic in Sudbury on Friday.

    She's been studying the negative impact of road salt on lake habitat. Arnott says studies have shown that water in the lakes in the Canadian Shield is softer, which means it doesn't have a lot of calcium carbonate in it.

    "Calcium carbonate can influence the toxicity of road salt and other contaminants like metals," she said.

    An expert on road salt and its effect on waterways says municipalities need to start finding ways to reduce how much salt is used on roads in the winter.

    Queen's University professor Shelley Arnott will be speaking about the topic in Sudbury on Friday.

    She says that means the effect of salt or chloride on the organisms in lakes in the Canadian Shield is greater.

    "We find that they are much more susceptible at lower concentration of chloride," she explained.

    "So for soft water lakes we need to have another look at what level of protection we have for those lakes."

    Arnott says less salt should be used on the roads.

    "[There is] pretty good evidence that increasing chloride has a negative effect on aquatic life and so somehow we have to come up with that balance," she said.

    "But I think there's lots of things we can do."

    Arnott says mixing road salt with water can help reduce how much is used, adding using a brine like that is also more effective.

    "I think we also need to explore the alternatives and what the impact of those alternatives are," she said.

    Arnott will be speaking at noon at the Living With Lake Centre at Laurentian University on Friday. 

  • 03 Sep 2019 1:41 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    A monarch butterfly had just emerged from its chrysalis when Emilie Snell-Rood reached into its cage, grabbed it carefully to take measurements and photographs, then placed it inside a tall and breezy tent. There it would strengthen its wings for a day or two in relative safety before being released in time to begin a 2,000-mile trek to southern Mexico.

    This monarch in particular, a female, may have a better chance than most to survive the migration. It all depends on how her body reacts to varying levels of road salt.

    In an effort to understand why monarch populations are plummeting, researchers at the University of Minnesota are investigating road salt as both a culprit and an unlikely solution. Across the country, the butterfly's numbers have fallen by more than 90% since the early 1990s, and now the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering adding the butterfly to its list of endangered and threatened species.

    In Minnesota, the northern end of a key monarch migration route, researchers believe that road salt is playing an outsized role. That's because many of the state's remaining significant concentrations of milkweed—the food source for monarch caterpillars—run alongside roads and highways.

    When winter road salt is kicked up and ground into dust by traffic, the sodium seeps into nearby soil. The milkweed growing in that soil keeps the sodium within its leaves, said Snell-Rood, an ecology professor at the U who is leading the research.

    Too much sodium is toxic for butterflies and can delay or hinder their muscle development, she said.

    But smaller amounts may prove beneficial.

    "Every animal needs sodium for proper growth," Snell-Rood said during a recent interview at her lab on the St. Paul campus. "But the options are fairly limited for herbivores because plants don't like sodium and tend to have very little of it."

    In the wild, animals resort to various, often strange, behaviors to get that sodium. It's why deer are so attracted to salt licks, why moose seek out aquatic plants and why butterflies have been known to suck up mud, Snell-Rood said.

    "The question is," she said, "is this sodium translating to performance effects in monarchs during migration?"

    Monarchs are just beginning what is perhaps the greatest annual migration in North America. Tens of millions of the orange-and-black butterflies will spend the next few months fluttering thousands of miles from every corner of the country and parts of Canada to just a handful of locations west of Mexico City, where the tiny creatures will mass in numbers so big that their weight can collapse tree branches.

    One of the busiest routes runs down the center of the United States, following Interstate 35 from Duluth to the Texas border.

    To test the role of road salt, Snell-Rood and her team have been raising thousands of monarch caterpillars since the insects first returned north this spring. They've split the bugs into three groups: One is fed milkweed sprayed with high concentrations of sodium, one gets lower levels of sodium and one gets no extra sodium at all. The higher levels are set to mimic the amount of salt that leaks into the soil along major urban highways, such as the I-35 corridor in Minneapolis. The lower levels roughly equal the amount of sodium kicked up along less-trafficked rural roads.

    When each caterpillar emerges as a butterfly, it is measured, tagged with a sticker on its wing and put into a tent for a few days to grow and get used to its surroundings. Then it is released.

    The female butterfly Snell-Rood photographed on a recent afternoon had been treated with lower levels of sodium. Her brain may be a little bigger, eyesight a little better and flight muscles stronger than those of a typical monarch butterfly. Snell-Rood's team has found that those treated with higher levels of sodium take longer to develop. They're expected to be weaker and more vulnerable to frosts, predators and the countless perils they'll face during the great migration.

    Researchers will track the butterflies to see how many from each group make it to Mexico, by working with various partners and possibly sending a team south to try to spot the stickers.

    Lab studies have already shown that modest levels of sodium supplements can increase muscle growth as well as brain and eye size, all of which are critical for migrating, Snell-Rood said. Higher levels can outright poison monarchs or hinder their muscle development.

    This will be the first field test of its kind to see how sodium levels actually affect survival rates outside the lab.

    The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will be following the results closely. The agency has already begun to design major road projects, such as the reconstruction of I-35W in Minneapolis, with monarch butterflies in mind by adding more diverse plantings of clovers, grasses and milkweed, as long stretches of highway have become one of the butterfly's primary remaining habitats.

    The U's monarch study comes amid heightened scrutiny of road salt and the environmental damage it can cause. In the Twin Cities area, where roads, sidewalks and parking lots are treated with an estimated 349,000 tons of road salt a year, dozens of lakes have already been impaired by chloride contamination, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

    Many of those lakes are becoming so salty they will not be able to support native life within the next three decades, according to a 2017 study from the University of Wisconsin.

    Fortunately for the monarch, however, solving their sodium problem is likely to be much easier than fixing Minnesota's long-term addiction to salt.

    If lower concentrations of sodium prove helpful for monarchs, then Minnesota would need to make just a few changes to salting and plowing practices, Snell-Rood said.

    "If you look at just a profile of roadsides across Minnesota, most have low to moderate traffic, which is good," she said.

    It's the busiest corridors that are probably toxic to monarchs. And even along those major highways, she said, fixes could be relatively simple and cheap. The most toxic plants are right next to the road, she said, so the easiest solution would be to mow that strip consistently and remove the milkweed.

    Forcing the caterpillars to move even just a few yards away from the road could mean the difference between strong monarchs and weak ones.

    Snell-Rood and her team will present MnDOT with a series of recommendations once their study is complete this winter.

    "Depending on what we find, I really think we're going to be able to have a discussion and come up with ideas that are feasible," she said.

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