January 29, 2016 11:58 am
Updated: January 30, 2016 12:03 am

Mild Edmonton winter allows city crews to start pothole patrol

WATCH ABOVE: A warm stretch of winter weather has city workers filling potholes instead of clearing snow. Kendra Slugoski reports.

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EDMONTON – It’s said that Edmonton has two seasons: Winter and construction. But this year the mild weather has brought the two together.

Balmy Winter

The City of Edmonton’s Roadway Maintenance workers, who would normally be plowing snow, are instead taking advantage of the balmy weather to catch up on work usually relegated to the warmer months.

The warmer temperatures have uncovered potholes around Edmonton, so the city is getting a head start on filling them.

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From October to the end of January the city has filled 100,000 potholes. On average crews end up filling about 500,000 annually, so the city says it is on par with other years. Although freeze-thaw cycles can create more potholes, right now crews are keeping up.

“The fact that we are filling potholes now doesn’t mean that we won’t have freeze and thaw cycles that will create other potholes in the spring,” said Eduardo Sosa, director of roadway maintenance.

“But for sure, we are being proactive and we are trying to get as much as we can done ahead of time.”

Each shift, 10 crews use about 80 tonnes of material to fill the holes. As warmer weather continues, additional crews will switch from snow and ice duties to pothole patrol.

“Following the rain, we had a few freeze/thaw cycles, which means sanding is also high on the priority list,” said Sosa.

READ MORE: Slippery sidewalks? It’s time to channel your inner penguin

“We are sanding sidewalks, roads near schools, multi-use trails, and other problem areas, all in an effort to make conditions safer for Edmontonians.”

The city said crews are also doing street sweeping, tree branch removal, picking up litter, painting over graffiti and other spring cleaning duties.

Saving Money?

The warm weather has meant savings to the snow budget, which is $60 million each calendar year.

The city doesn’t know exactly how much it has saved so far this season, but says a big winter wallop can cost $1 million to clean up because it has to hiring contractors to operate graders.

Sosa said in the last few years, the end of January has been above seasonal.

Warming Trend

Stefan Kienzle, a geography professor at the University of Lethbridge, created albertaclimaterecords.com, to find how much the climate has really changed. He only observed weather records from the past 60 years. His data includes no predicted forecasts, no computer projections – just information about how the weather was every day from 1950 – 2010.

So has Alberta’s climate changed all that much?

“In all of Alberta, the climate has warmed in all seasons. In the south it has warmed between one and two degress, and in the north it has warmed by three and four degrees,” Kienzle explained.

Also province-wide, heat waves have doubled and the number of full days below 0°C have decreased by three weeks per year.

Near Edmonton, average temperatures in the winter season have increased by 5°C each year. Near northern areas like the Caribou Wilderness Area and the Birch Mountains, average winter temperatures have increased by as much as 7°C.

READ MORE: Has the climate changed in your backyard? New Alberta website has the stats

With files from Margeaux Morin and Kendra Slugoski, Global News.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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