Day 1 into its residential snow clearing blitz and the City of Red Deer is already behind schedule.
“Delays are driven primarily by having to work around a higher than expected number of parked vehicles,” the city said Tuesday evening.
“The complete clearing of Priority 6 residential streets, based on conditions today, will take up to eight days to complete.”
Overnight Tuesday, crews were going back to Priority 1 and 2 locations to deal with drifting snow.
Residents are urged to help out by getting their vehicles — many of them snowed in — off the roads as quickly as possible. Those that aren’t moved will be plowed around, leaving them surrounded by windrows.
“We need residents to listen to the radio, check our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get up-to-date information on where our plows are headed next,” said city public information officer Julia Harvey-Shemko.
The city is plowing windrows to both sides of the street and in most cases they are not expected to be higher than about 40 cm. Residents that have designated disabled parking spaces in front of their homes will have those cleared.
Mayor Tara Veer said the recent snowfalls have put the city’s snow and ice policy to the test.
“It is during these extreme weather events that we need to re-examine our policies and determine if they are still keeping up with the needs of the community,” she said in a statement.
Snowplow forces, including city and contracted, have been mobilized in order to launch a full-blown attack on residential streets following the three extreme snowfalls on Nov. 2, Nov. 16. and most recently on Monday.
Council gave the order during Monday’s meeting. Around the same time the city’s Emergency Operations Centre or command centre was activated to bring all necessary city departments together in one spot to determine next steps and measures.
Last winter the centre was activated on a smaller scale during a power outage in Sunnybrook on Dec. 7. At the time residents were grappling with a -30C cold snap.
Sidewalk and transit stop clearing have taken a backseat as the city has pulled its resources into the first three priority roadways and the residential areas.
In January, council will review its snow policy along with the operating budget debate. The city’s existing policy is built around an estimated 140 cm of snowfall per season.
Similar back-to-back snowstorm stranded residents on highways and wrecked havoc on streets and neighbourhoods in Central Alberta in November 1996. The city took the same blitz approach to clear residential areas as swiftly as possible piling windrows roughly 40-cm high. There was 56 cm of now in November and another 29 cm in December. That year the snow budget was $947,000 compared to today’s $3.4 million.
Only 10 years earlier a freak snowstorm on May 14, 1986, ripped through Red Deer. The city accumulated enough snow to smash a 48-year-old record for the whole month of May in Alberta. The Red Deer airport reported 35.4 mm of rain snow on May 14.
“That shut down the city for a couple days,” said local historian Michael Dawe. “We were getting ready to open the Fort Normandeau Interpretive Centre. There was still some snow drifts on the ground. It hadn’t completely melted yet.”
Dawe said it was wet and everything froze and he remembered the blackout across the city.
Wind gusts whipped lines into one another while melting snow caused the lines to whip upward and trip other lines.
The high winds of up to 80 km/h left 80 per cent of the city without power for the better part of 12 hours.
For the first and only time in the Advocate’s history, the daily newspaper missed a publication date because of the outage. The next day, two editions of the paper were published and delivered to subscribers.
Dawe said the worst storm he can remember in Red Deer took place on Dec. 14 and 15, 1964.
“It was -73 C with the windchill,” said Dawe. “A man froze to death in his house in north Red Deer when his furnace went out.”
While he wasn’t around in 1942, Dawe mentioned the brutal winter in the Second World War when there was a coal shortage.
Wednesday’s schedule (in no particular order):
• Anders Park
• Anders South
• Aspen Ridge
• Highland Green
• Highland Green Estates
• Inglewood West
• Kentwood East (for completion)
• Kentwood West (for completion)
• Kingsgate (for completion)
• Lancaster Green (for completion)
• Lancaster Meadows (for completion)
• Lonsdale (for completion)
• Oriole Park (parts if time allows)
• Riverview Meadows