Why the winter warm up makes for slippery conditions around Winnipeg
It wasn’t the coldest day, or the day with the most snow, but Tuesday was arguably one of the worst days for drivers on Winnipeg roads.
From the south perimeter to Polo Park, Henderson Highway and countless other areas of the city, crashes snarled traffic and caused delays during the daily commute.
Ahmed Shalaby, Professor and Municipal Infrastructure Chair at the University of Manitoba, said while warmer weather is seen by most as a plus, it can actually be a negative when it comes to driving conditions.
“The last couple of weeks we were at -20, -30 C and in those conditions the packed snow was forming on the road. As the temperature warmed up to -5 or -7, and with vehicles travelling on those roads, some of the snow melted … because it’s still below freezing, this melted snow turned into ice.
“We’re seeing this because some of the snow that was built up on the road has melted and turned into ice, and that ice has no texture and doesn’t allow for a vehicle tire to grip to it, and that creates more hazardous conditions than we would see otherwise.”
While many people were happy to see more moderate temperatures after the recent cold snap, their mood changed when they hit the road and discovered conditions were especially slippery.
Simply put, snow and ice melt when beneath vehicles’ tires in warmer weather, then freeze again, creating a layer of ice, causing the chaos on city streets.
“When you have ice on the road, especially when it’s covered by snow … it’s difficult to know how much traction you have, how much friction you have on the surface of the road,” Shalaby said, suggesting the best course of action is always to drive to conditions.
It’s a reminder for all drivers to go slow, and continue to take precaution, even when the weather isn’t extreme.
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