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Wild weather, flash freezing makes for problematic P.E.I. road conditions

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Islanders had a wild 24 hours of weather Sunday and Monday with snow, wind, ice pellets, rain, freezing rain and a significant temperature swing.

Summerside resident Craig Passmore was awoken at 3 a.m. Monday by a call from Summerside Police Services informing him his unoccupied car had slid out his driveway and across the road.

“There was an officer out in front of the house to make sure it just slid out and didn’t get broken into or anything,” Passmore said. “It slid out into the street around 1 a.m. and they called at 3 a.m. So, it spent two hours blocking the road.”

In Borden-Carleton, Tanya Birch’s son, Carson Paynter, and his friend, Jacob Murray, took advantage of Monday’s cancelled school classes and icy conditions to lace up skates and play some shinny on Birch’s frozen driveway.

“They thought skating in the driveway was great, wherever there is ice you will find them,” said Birch.

According to SaltWire Network meteorologist Cindy Day, Prince County received between nine and 13 cm of snow. Rainfall amounts also varied — the Wellington area received about 15 mm while Borden-Carleton received 33 mm.

It was so icy Monday morning that Carson Paynter went for a skate in his Borden-Carleton driveway. - Photo courtesy of Tanya Birch
It was so icy Monday morning that Carson Paynter went for a skate in his Borden-Carleton driveway. - Photo courtesy of Tanya Birch

“It was an interesting system,” said Day. “You had the flash freeze warning in place a little earlier on. The temperature dropped from 7 C at 5 a.m. to -1 C at 7: 30 a.m. So in about two and a half hours the temperature dropped eight degrees.”

Day added that temperatures were not scheduled to warm up much throughout the week. With the wind chill it was expected to feel like about -25 C Monday night and into Tuesday morning, which brings a chance of frostbite. Temperatures will rise a bit Wednesday, but Day is tracking another weather system entering the area Wednesday night and into Thursday that could bring about 10 cm of snow.

Because of the icy roads, schools were cancelled Monday across the Island and many businesses didn’t bother opening, preferring to keep employees and customers off the roads.

Despite Sunday’s storm and Monday’s icy road conditions, Prince County RCMP reported no serious incidents on roadways as of noon Monday. 

Mike Berrigan, the P.E.I. Department of Transportation’s superintendent for Prince County, said it was a messy 24 hours for his crews to deal with.

“It was pretty bad there (Sunday night), when we had that real fast freeze in a short period,” said Berrigan. “All you can do is keep putting (salt and sand) out to try and keep the roads a little better for the travelling public. That was difficult too because there was a few vehicles that went off the road, so it takes time to get them back on the road and get going again.”

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