Snow, ice pellets take toll on snow removal equipment

Sunday's mixture of snow, freezing rain and ice pellets not only took its toll on Islanders who spent much of the day digging out, but also on snow removal equipment.

Officials with both the province and the city say the battle with more than 20 centimetres of snow and ice pellets caused delays in snow removal.

Scott Adams, manager of public works with the city of Charlottetown, says the mixture was particularly hard on sidewalk plows. 

"As heavy as it is for somebody to shovel, it is just equally as hard on our equipment," Adams said. 

"At one point we did have up to five or six broken down. It is a significant number because that is about half of our sidewalk fleet."

'It was slow going'

Most of the equipment was repaired over the weekend and back in service Monday. 

Steve Bruce/CBC

The cleanup wasn't any easier across the province.

Stephen Szwarc, director of the highway maintenance division for the Department of Transportation, said it was slow going. He said it took snowplow operators nearly twice as long as normal to clean the roads of the snow and ice pellets. 

Szwarc said it also took two to three times the amount of fuel, because plows were going much slower than normal and having to make more than one run through the roads to get them cleared. 

"It was slow going," said Szwarc.

"We had plows that once they finished their plow runs they were having to turn around and just go back out because we were getting so much snow. It was coming so quick and it was coming so heavy."

More snow coming 

Szwarc said the province needs some time to get everything cleaned up. 

Steve Bruce/CBC

"We're hoping that we get a break now so everybody can get some rest and we can get the rest of the roads cleaned up."

But that break may be short-lived.

Environment Canada has already posted a special weather statement for Prince Edward Island for Thursday. Another 15 centimetres, or more, of snow is expected.

CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin is warning that by the end of Sunday there could be an additional 30 centimetres of snow on the ground from storms Thursday and next weekend along with lighter snowfalls Monday night and Wednesday. 

Szwarc said a colleague who had worked years with the province said it was the most ice pellets he had ever seen fall on the Island. 

"Hopefully, we won't see it again for awhile."

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