Temperatures to drop overnight after provincewide flooding, snow

Brent Grant, the assistant manager of roadway operations for the City of Fredericton, said road flooding was city-wide. (Edwin Hunter/CBC - image credit)
Brent Grant, the assistant manager of roadway operations for the City of Fredericton, said road flooding was city-wide. (Edwin Hunter/CBC - image credit)

While stormy conditions have dissipated for most of New Brunswick as of Thursday evening, dropping temperatures mean the risk of water on the roads and sidewalks freezing.

Throughout the day, crews rushed to clear drains before the temperatures fell below zero on Thursday night.

Brent Grant, the assistant manager of roadway operations for the City of Fredericton, said his team does daily maintenance to keep road drains clear, but when snow is immediately followed by heavy rain it presents a challenge.

"What's happening is when we have to go and plow at five o'clock in the morning, two nights in a row, and then it turns to rain, you know, five hours later, anything our plows have plowed off the road has covered up the drains again," he said.

Roger Cosman/CBC
Roger Cosman/CBC

This weather system brought snow, ice pellets, rain and a mix of all three to different parts of New Brunswick overnight and throughout the day Thursday.

Still driving conditions are not ideal, with many northern roads snow-covered, according to the province's 511 road conditions site.

Cleanup will continue as the north received snow overnight and into the day on Thursday.

All New Brunswick schools were closed Thursday, with some students on their third snow day this week.

Slush has to be cleared

In Fredericton, it was a matter of clearing slush from the drains, Grant said. But without the daily maintenance, he said the city would be in a much worse situation, with the possibility of built-up ice covering the drains.

The pools of water had 45 to 55 people with equipment out working. He called the work a race against Mother Nature.

The toughest chore going forward will be the sidewalks, said Grant. Since the snow piles up against street curbs when plowed, this means the water on sidewalks won't have anywhere to drain.

WATCH | Second winter storm this week floods roadways:

"It's just a complete freeze, thaw over and over and over again and salt — all that does is melt it in the day and freeze it at night."

He said crews will sand the sidewalks to have them walkable, but getting it done "can't happen at the snap of a finger."

With this being the second storm of the week, Grant said crews are tired since their team consists of "one body for each seat," which includes plows and salt trucks.

"These people that are out here trying to do this work, they have to shovel their own driveways too, they like to enjoy the streets and sidewalks as safe as possible, and they're doing their best," said Grant.

"We just need people to be more patient and understanding ... we do have a lot of our citizens [who] are very supportive of us. But you know, some aren't and that's always disappointing for my crew."

Tim O'Reilly, the director of public works for the City of Saint John, said the city saw problems similar to Fredericton, with snow packing the drains which then caused pooling.

He said there are some locations that typically flood, but others that are more unusual because of the covered catch basins.

Patrick Lacelle/Radio-Canada
Patrick Lacelle/Radio-Canada

With the temperature dropping, O'Reilly said he expects icy conditions overnight and into Friday on roads and sidewalks. But he said crews will be taking care of the roads overnight and a sidewalk maintenance crew is already scheduled to come in Friday to address the sidewalks.

He said the back-to-back storms posed an additional hurdle.

"It does create a challenge of getting it over and dealt with on the first storm before you get the next storm," he said.

Environment Canada shows flurries and rain in parts of northern New Brunswick, along with high winds, which could cause blowing snow.

Central and southern regions show rain turning into flurries and ending by midnight.

At one point during the day, more than 3,000 N.B. customers were without power, but as of Thursday evening, fewer than 200 customers were waiting to be reconnected.