Unseasonably warm weather poses challenges for ice clearing, pothole patching

Water pools over an icy sidewalk on a residential road.
It’s difficult to get around for many Winnipeggers. Current conditions mean our typical solutions to icy sidewalks and pathways aren’t always effective.

We know current weather conditions are making getting around difficult for some Winnipeggers.

“We are doing what we can to make things easier, but it’s difficult to keep all sidewalks, pathways, and roadways free of ice and surfaces smooth,” said Michael Cantor, Manager of Streets Maintenance with the City of Winnipeg’s Public Works department.

Fluctuating and unseasonal weather is making it harder for us to keep sidewalks and pathways passable.

When we plow sidewalks, our machines push snow to one side for storage. It usually ends up on our boulevard.

When snow melts, the water gets trapped on the sidewalk and then freezes again when temperatures drop.

When temperatures continuously stay below zero (which is usually the case in winter), we improve traction using sand. This sand typically stays on the surface and is effective for days if not weeks.

This year, since temperatures continue to rise above zero every day, most surface ice melts and any sand we’ve spread either sinks into the melting surface or mixes with any slush.

At the same time, the ground hasn’t warmed enough to soak up the melted ice as it would in the spring.

“Essentially, the sand loses its effectiveness in these conditions,” Cantor said.

We are now monitoring for trouble areas and treating where we can. We continue to encourage Winnipeggers to report slippery sidewalks by filling out an online form, or by contacting 311.

An unfilled pothole in a road.
Wet, fluctuating weather is also posing a challenge for crews out patching potholes.

The current temperatures and rain are also leaving us with potholes earlier in the year than normal.

Crews are applying our winter cold-mix to patch significant holes until we can return with a permanent fix in the spring.

You can help us address problem potholes by reporting them via our online form or by contacting 311. We prioritize locations with very large or deep potholes that pose an imminent safety concern.

Our first responders are also urging you to use caution on slippery surfaces.

“Falls on ice-covered sidewalks, steps, and driveways can lead to injuries. Wear winter footwear with good treads, foot traction aids, and consider using ice picks on canes,” said Ryan Sneath, Deputy Chief of Paramedic Operations and Training with Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.

You may also want to consider rescheduling outings or appointments on days that are particularly slippery.

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