More Of The White Stuff

As I was pulling into our parking lot at work this morning, I noticed a hint of something poking out of the snow-covered ground near my parking spot.

I stopped short of the snow-covered object, got out of the car and retrieved it. It was a little dirty and damp, but no one had driven or parked over it. I gave it a few firm shakes to free it of any attached snow. I had recovered my lost scarf. After being washed, I can put it to some use again.

That aside, it snowed another 10 cm near our household and workplace last night. The side roads were a little slippery due to the new snow accumulation, but the main roads and highway were nearly free of any ice. No longer were motorists confined to driving 20 to 40 km/hr. Traffic was finally moving along at the designated street and highway speeds.

With the climate getting warmer today (above 0C!), snow is finally starting to melt, making for safer roads.

Where Are All The Snow Plows?

I decided to drive a FWD car to work today.

It didn’t help much.

Roads were still slippery today, especially intersections. Black ice was plentiful. The smell of burnt rubber was in the air.

I didn’t see a single snow plow during my commute this morning and this evening. The local paper reported that the city had been working 24 hours a day clearing roads. Where were they? All of the major intersections in town were still in the same state they were yesterday evening — very slippery.

The Accord sedan I drove didn’t handle the slippery intersections very well, mostly due to a lack of traction control. My RWD G35 actually faired better with traction control enabled. It swayed a little (an inch or two) in the rear, but gained traction within a second and carried on. In contrast, the Accord swayed to the right at two intersections and took several seconds to gain traction at another local intersection. I recall my Accord V6 coupe (same year as G35) exhibiting similar behavior during a winter storm a couple of years ago. In retrospect, I think the 03 Accord’s traction control implementation wasn’t as refined as the one in the 03 G35 (eg. reducing engine output to gain traction and per-wheel torque distribution).

Continue reading “Where Are All The Snow Plows?”

Extended Power Outage

On Wednesday afternoon, western BC was hit with a powerful storm that knocked out power to over 100,000 households and businesses.

We were one of them.

Thankfully, our utility power was restored almost 21 hours after it was cut on Wednesday afternoon (12:20 PM in my system logs), but that left us with no heat for a night. Brrr. Cold.

Thursday evening was fairly boring with no Internet access, but I made good use of our treadmill and home gym while patiently waiting for the Internet service to be restored. I checked up on my router periodically, but I gave up at 11 PM and went to sleep.

I got up this morning to check my Internet service. Still nothing. I attempted to reach my server from work and finally got a response back!

Forty-eight hours and two complaints later, that is.

Our workplace was another nightmare. I recorded over twenty-five power outages from 12 PM to 4 PM on Wednesday. One computer without UPS power failed to boot up, after it rebooted itself several times in a row. The system registry had become corrupted. However, I had it up and running within a few minutes. In order to avoid such problems in the future, I placed a call to our distributor and ordered two APC 1200VA UPS units. That’ll keep my co-workers and I productive, while keeping me from pulling out excessive hair.

It’s all good for now, but Environment Canada predicts that another powerful storm is headed our way. Hopefully, we are prepared this time around.

Abbotsford is becoming like Vancouver.

I mentioned that statement at work a couple of months ago.

A co-worker looked up and said, “Please don’t say that.”

Well, it’s true. With the recent housing boom in Abbotsford, we’ve had explosive population growth. With people come vehicles. With vehicles come traffic. With traffic comes congestion. Congestion leads to frustrated drivers. Frustrated drivers lead to road rage.

That’s where it’s at now. There’s more and more road rage on Abbotsford streets. Honking horns. People making a left at intersections when the light is red. People tailgating ever soo closely, leading to even more frustration.

Abbotsford used to be a small town, and the roadways were not designed for such large volumes of traffic.

So, I thought, ‘What’s being done about the increasing traffic flow?’ I saw traffic analysis black boxes on the major routes I take home a couple of weeks ago. That means the local government has acknowledged the problem and has used the traffic analysis boxes to serve as a form of statistical proof.

No solutions yet, that I can see (except on a couple of overpasses). Hopefully, the traffic signal timing will be adjusted at major intersections to allow for longer delays during peak traffic hours. As for roadways, existing ones will need to be optimized for the increasing traffic flow.

I just hope the roadway architects take some notes from our US counterparts, as they have done a terrific job of designing roadways for future growth. For example, take the Interstate 5. Not many individuals know that it was designed for fast evacuation of cities in the event of an nuclear attack. The idea may have seemed far-fetched when the Interstate 5 was constructed, but you can bet the extra planning has paid off.