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Extreme weather causes Winnipeg roads to heave, historic temperatures

A section of Chief Peguis Trail is expected to be closed for several days after being damaged by the heat.
A section of Chief Peguis Trail is expected to be closed for several days after being damaged by the heat. Twitter / @cityofwinnipeg

Winnipeg’s recent heat wave has affected more than just the city’s residents — a number of roads have suffered weather-related damage, most notably a section of the Chief Peguis Trail that had to be closed for several days.

City streets maintenance engineer Jean-Luc Lambert told 680 CJOB that these kinds of heat-related blowouts aren’t uncommon in extreme weather.

“These types of blowouts occur on concrete pavement most of the time,” he said.

“If we take Chief Peguis for an example, when we design and construct these streets, we incorporate joints perpendicular to the travel of traffic.

“These joints act in two ways: it helps control that cracking that naturally occurs when we’re placing and curing the concrete, and it’s also there to allow for expansion and contraction of the concrete slabs that are in between the joints.”

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Read more: Section of Chief Peguis Trail closed after heat-related damage

Lambert said concrete has the ability to withstand significant stresses, but the extreme heat causes the slabs to expand with “a tremendous amount of compressed force,” eventually causing dramatic heaving as seen on Chief Peguis.

“These types of blowouts do occur once in a while but what we’re seeing this year and over the last couple of years…. It’s nothing abnormal to see in these hot weather conditions.”

It had been over three decades since Manitoba saw heat like it did on the weekend.

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Communities like Gretna, Emerson, Morden and several other southern Manitoba towns saw temperatures recorded over 40 C on Friday — the first time in the province since 1989.

Former Environment Canada meteorologist Robert Paola told 680 CJOB the extreme weather only exacerbates a drought issue that’s plagued the province for nearly two years now.

“Since late 2019, every month has been below normal in precipitation here in Winnipeg, so our precipitation deficit, as of May 31, is running around 300 millimetres since the end of 2019,” he said.

Paola said the drought conditions the province is experiencing can be compared to the 1930s — but technological advances mean Manitoba isn’t about to see massive dust storms like it did in the past.

“Since then, they’ve got the better agriculture practices with irrigation, crop rotation, so they make much better soil management use now, so we’re not seeing those dust storms, even though we’re seeing similar dry conditions.”

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