When snowstorms move in and road conditions are treacherous, highway snow plow operators come to the rescue. The tireless and often thankless job makes highway driving possible even in the worst of times.
Steve Shaheen is with the Ministry of Highways as a Senior Communication Consultant. He says a lot more goes into the job than just clearing snow.
"Crews are constantly monitoring the situation and they can pre-treat before the conditions. They're always looking at the weather forecast to see what's the imminent forecast to determine how they can treat the roads. That might be some pre-treatment work like putting down salt and sand," Shaheen explained.
Weyburn received only two centimetres yesterday, but plows were still on the highways ensuring safe driving conditions. Shaheen said it doesn't take much for the fleet of 300 plows across the province to hit the roads.
"If there's any amount of snow and/or ice they'll be out treating that," he said. "They put in some long hours, especially on days where the storm and Mother Nature doesn't want to let up. But certainly, they take pride in their position and they're out treating the conditions as such."
Shaheen also recommends checking the Highway Hotline before heading out during the winter season. It's updated at least three times daily and often more as it updates as real-time changes become available. You can see which highways are slippery, or not recommended for travel. There are also cameras stationed on numerous locations around the province, which provides a visual presentation of what conditions look like.
Plow Operators are on call 24/7 during winter storms. The unsung heroes of highway travel are often overlooked, but Shaheen wants everyone to treat them like any other emergency vehicle.
"One important thing to remind people is snow plows need to be treated like other emergency vehicles and you must slow to 60 when they're pulled over on the side of the road, or when passing," he stated. "This is for everyone's safety and of course, when you see the blue and amber lights ahead, that's an indication that a snow plow is working up ahead. Make sure you slow down, stay back and stay safe."