Combine high winds and falling snow — and much of civilization as we know it is paralyzed.
You would think, though, that Quebecers would be used to big dumps of snow and blizzard conditions. That’s their reputation, right?
As the winds whipped yesterday’s falling snow around on Highway 10 in the Eastern Townships, drivers of some 50 vehicles steered themselves into a massive pileup that resulted in the road being closed overnight Tuesday and well into Wednesday. On Highway 20, a truck carrying bleach somehow (think excessive speed?) lost control and spilled its load, stranding people behind in their vehicles for 5 hours or more as the mess was cleaned up.
Even more disgraceful for Quebecers, an accident on Highway 13 south in the evening stranded people in some 300 vehicles overnight — for 14 hours into Wednesday morning! — before officials got that mess sorted out. Some vehicles ran out of gas, apparently. Officials brought in buses in the wee hours of the morning to keep people warm, but the tow trucks didn’t show up until after 6 a.m., according to reports.
And they call this the land of the ice and snow? They say Quebecers are a hardy bunch who laugh off snowfalls?
Not really. It’s a myth. A lot of people didn’t report to work today.
So, what about the numerous car accidents, pileups and vehicles wiped out and abandoned? Well, video footage I’ve seen of the Eastern Townships pileup (above) show drivers weren’t slowing down — until it was too late. That’s a common problem: some drivers refuse to slow down when it is snowing, and when one wipes out, bang, bang, bang, bang . . .
I’m betting that most of the accidents and wipeouts on the roads yesterday were caused by drivers who were travelling too fast.
And then there is the matter of timely — or not timely — road clearing. You would think a province like Quebec would be on top of that. You would think they would clear snow from highways as soon as 5 centimetres of snow has fallen. You would think wrong.
Major highways like the 13 and 15 are often left until 10, 15, 20 or more centimetres of snow has fallen. Why are the people in charge waiting so long?
After this latest disgraceful performance by road crews and many drivers, the government must act to be sure we are ready for another big snowfall and blizzard. Perhaps laws should be passed reducing the speed limit on highways to, say, 60 km/h when there is more than 5 centimetres of snow on the road. And road crews should be on hand to keep major thoroughfares clear during storms, going up and down the same highways.
Quebec has disgraced itself with how it handled this snowfall — which will total about 40 centimetres in the Montreal area, a lot, but not that much for a place like Quebec.
We don’t look like hearty Canadians anymore.
We look like wimps.
Photo: Screen grab from YouTube video of pileup in the Eastern Townships on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Source: Andrew Johnston/YouTube