The snow is falling fast and furious on Toronto streets, and until it’s finished — hopefully, early this afternoon — city snow plows are working hard just to keep up.
“The challenge right now is the number of vehicles still on main roads and expressways — the biggest challenge we’re having is getting the roads clear for people to come back home in the p.m. rush hour,” said Hector Morano, Toronto’s Manager of Road Operations, Transportaiton Services.
“Right now we have basically every piece of equipment in our arsenal out there right now — clearing, plowing our expressways continuously, our main roads and collector streets.”
Morano said that the general magnitude of the storm, which is expected to drop more than 30 centimetres when it finishes early in the afternoon — isn’t anything that the city can’t handle.
The challenge is that it’s coming fast: about three centimetres an hour.
That means that ploughs have to keep returning to the same roads over and over again to keep them clear.
“That’s usually a challenging thing to try to do as you battle parked vehicles on the road, and vehicles that are still on the road moving from place to place within the city — and of course people shovelling the snow right back onto the road,” said Morano.
Once the storm stops, the city will start to work on local roads that haven’t yet been shovelled.
That work is expected to take between 14 and 16 hours once it begins. And because there’s a thaw expected, the city will likely also try to remove snow, so the melt doesn’t back up sewers and cause flooding.
By the time it’s all done, this storm is expected to cost taxpayers as much as $4 million.
In the meantime, Morano is asking the public for some co-operation.
“The message we’d like to get across is it’s going to be a challenging storm from the outset — and we would like to ask our residents to try as best as possible not to dump any snow on driveways, sidewalks and roads, and avoid as much as possible driving to give us an opportunity to clear the main roads,” he said.
“If you need to go out, use public transit as best as possible. Avoid parking on the streets and try not to push any snow back onto the roadway.”
The city will also be providing updates on snow removal progress on the phone, through the city’s 311 service — with information updating every three hours.