Photo: Jacques Nadeau Le Devoir
The streets of the metropolis were submerged in water Thursday morning with the rain and the melting of the snow.
After the snowfalls and the cold weather, several regions of Quebec have received Thursday a mix of rain and sleet, before the mercury plunges in the evening. Quebecers will have to learn to live with these intense weather events in coming years. But the problem is that the public infrastructure would not be ready for this new climate reality turned upside down.
In several cities of the province, including Quebec city and Montreal, the city dwellers have had a lot of trouble to move Thursday, due to heavy precipitation and accumulations of water, but also because of the sidewalks and arteries icy.
While calling on Montrealers to show “resilience” in the circumstances, the mayor Valérie Plante spoke of a “cocktail” weather complex for the City, taken between the snow, the unblocking of the sewers and spreading abrasives on sidewalks become frequently impassable. “This will not be easy” Friday, she added during a press briefing.
Meteorologist with Environment Canada, Marie-Eve Giguère was elsewhere Thursday as the thermometer has fallen below zero by the end of the day, should result in the freezing of the slush that has accumulated due to the mixture of snow and water.
What’s more, the coming days will see a return of the temperatures of the season, so cold temperatures. “We will finish the month of January, in the cold,” she added. But is this the episode weather that Quebec has just passed through is outstanding ? “This is not never seen, but the combination of all this is pretty unusual,” according to Ms. Giguère.
If it is difficult to relate this single “cocktail” weather the impacts of a warming climate, the director general of the research consortium Ouranos Alain Bourque, warned that Quebecers will increasingly have to get used to of large “variability” of the climate, especially in winter.
“Climate scenarios are clear enough. We anticipate an increase of temperatures in winter, but also a sizeable increase in precipitation, of the order of 20 %. We can therefore expect to receive a lot more precipitation in winter period “,-t-he first explained Thursday.
“Large fluctuations of temperature, cold to warm spells, we have already seen this in the past. But as we are more and more around the freezing point, the cycles of freezing and thawing, but also the vibrations between the snow and the rain, will be much more frequent “, added Mr. Bourque, referring to studies that also point to a possible increase in episodes of ice.
Large scale public infrastructure would not, however, adapted to this new reality, is expected to intensify over the next few years.
“There are two aspects that combine. We are not ready, first of all, because our infrastructure has aged a lot, according to Alain Bourque. And a point of view of climate change, we are not ready, because we always use the historical weather data as a central hypothesis to determine what level of service must achieve. “
According to data compiled by the federal government and published in December last year, the climate change adaptation would not be taken into account in the management of infrastructure is crucial.
Thus, at the national level, 41.8% of the infrastructure owners, which are often public authorities, ” have not considered climate change adaptation as a factor when making decisions about essential infrastructure assets “.
In the case of infrastructure of wastewater management, the rate is taken into account in the “decision process” is only 36.4 %. It drops to 29 % in the case of bridges and tunnels, and then at 18% for transport. Moreover, in all cases, Québec is generally less prepared than the rest of the country.