Cooling temps complicating snow removal, causing injuries in Montreal
On Thursday night, Montreal was a city underwater. By Friday, however, Montreal looked and felt more like a city of ice.
Warm weather and rain gave way to cold temperatures, transforming the city once again into a veritable ice rink.
Much of the water that flooded main arteries across the city on Thursday has now frozen over, complicating pedestrian and vehicle movement.
"We received twice the amount of rain that we were expecting," explained city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin. "The situation is under control. We're still in the loading operation from last Sunday [and] have 35 cm to retrieve."
Mayor Valerie Plante appealed to citizens for patience - thousands of city employees were ordered to abandon their snow clearing operation earlier this week to tend to the problems caused by the overabundance of water.
Clogged sewers were unblocked, she said, and abrasives quickly spread on the sidewalks.
“Some places it's going to be more the salt and sand, and in other places, we'll use the ice crusher,” said Plante.
Much of the snow left over from last week's blizzard, however, has yet to be cleared.
"There are a few streets that need to be done in order to face the next snowfall that we're expecting next Tuesday," said Sabourin.
The city said some of its workers will get rest over the weekend to be sure they're ready to go for the forecasted snowfall.
Longueuil experienced a similar setback in snow removal, moving their city employees to water and ice control before daybreak on Friday.
In Laval, employees from the water management department were sent into the streets to install basins to collect water.
Heavy water accumulation was also reported in Sherbrooke; several roads were closed to traffic, and some drivers experienced mechanical failure because of water stalling the engine.
According to Environment Canada, temperatures will remain consistently below freezing and will drop to about -20C by Saturday morning.
Warnings from Urgences-Sante, doctors
Urgences-Sante said it is receiving about 100 slip-related calls per hour; the average rate is about 60.
“Many of these calls are for falls on the ice. Not only on sidewalks but everywhere. On driveways, in stairs,” said Benoit Garneau, chief of operations for Urgences-Santé.
Garneau said injuries are mostly upper body, and the high volume means challenging working conditions for paramedics.
“It's not easy for them right now. We have to cut on lunch times,” he said.
They're asking Montrealers to postpone any non-essential trips or errands until the sidewalk situation is under control.
Montrealers are asked to consider whether a person can make it to a clinic on their own before calling 911, due to the strain on local hospitals, and operating rooms, specifically.
“Up until 12 o'clock (Friday), in the last 24 hours we've had 24 people come in with broken bones and eight people have come in specifically with head injuries due to the ice,” said MUHC emergency physician Sanjit Singh Saluja. “There's only so much OR time that can happen and a lot of these bones that are broken need to be fixed operatively.”
Urgences-Sante also advises making sure one's home is accessible, by clearing walkways and spreading salt or other abrasive.