Fall’s first winter storm causing highway havoc

The first winter storm of fall 2022 has delivered poor road conditions through much of New Brunswick and several minor road accidents, including a jackknifed tractor-trailer near Exit 188 on Route 2, the Trans-Canada Highway, at Woodstock.

Speaking to the River Valley Sun around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, Brun-Way Highway Operations Inc. communications coordinator Felicia Murphy said the tractor-trailer remains at the accident scene as tow trucks and crews respond to several accidents as highway conditions deteriorate,

"We're waiting for a tow truck," Murphy said.

She said the transport and trailer came to a stop off the highway and currently are not impeding traffic.

Murphy said emergency crews marked the spot clearly, but travellers should proceed cautiously wherever they are driving.

She described Route 2, from Longs Creek to the Quebec border, and Route 95, from Woodstock to the Canada-US, as completely snow-packed and icy in several places.

Murphy said highway crews, police and first responders are dealing with several accidents involving tractor-trailers jackknifing or sliding off the highway. To date, she added, no one reported injuries.

Murphy said the most significant crash to date occurred around highway marker 58 in St. Leonard, where a jackknifed big rig blocked the westbound highway exit. She said authorities had to reroute traffic for a few hours.

Murphy recommended motorists stay off the highway unless travel is necessary. She added those who must travel should do so with care, including travelling well below the speed limit and maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles.

"And try not to pass," Murphy added.

Not only must travellers deal with icy patches, but she also said visibility is often limited, depending on the type of precipitation.

Murphy said snow continues to fall in most areas but has changed to ice pellets and freezing rain in some places.

While the forecast calls for the snow to end overnight, Murphy said lower temperatures would slow highway crews' cleanup efforts.

Murphy said travellers always seem to have a hard time with the first significant snowstorm of the fall.

"They seem to forget how to drive in snow," she said,

The warmer-than-usual October and early November appeared to leave many unprepared for Wednesday's snowstorm.

"This fall has been so confusing," Murphy said.

She noted last week, at this time, temperatures were close to 20 Celsius. As a result, many people delayed installing their snow tires.

Murphy said one piece of advice serves drivers at all times but becomes particularly meaningful for winter driving.

"Drive smart," she said.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun