Today was a thoroughly awful winter-weather day – particularly awful if one had to drive in it, which I did. Now, I was well-taught about winter driving by my father, who was a very good driver. What I learned from him was simple but effective: drive slowly and carefully, have snow tires on your car, and be constantly aware that any other driver on the road may do something dumb or lose control of his/her vehicle at any moment. Those rules have stood me in very good stead through all manner of poor driving conditions, and it therefore takes a lot to scare me about winter driving. But today scared me.
The problem was blowing snow: it has snowed an enormous amount lately, including through the night last night, and this morning’s high winds were blowing snow all over the road. On my southerly drive to Belleville from the Manse in Queensborough, down normally well-maintained Highway 62, there were some really scary whiteout conditions combined with patches of quite deep snow on the blacktop. Nasty nasty nasty.
As I grimly made my way through it (safely, I am happy to add), I found myself wondering this: What on earth ever became of snow fences?
When I was a kid growing up at the Manse, you saw snow fencing everywhere: it ran parallel to the roadway, maybe 10 or 20 feet inside the regular fenceline, in all the farm fields. As I understand it, the role of this fencing (which I believe was removed once winter ended) was to prevent, or at least ameliorate, the miserable road conditions that I and many others endured today.
It wasn’t what you’d call attractive, that snow fencing – in fact I recall thinking, as a kid looking out the bus windows on the way to and from school, that it was particularly unattractive – but if it helped keep snow off the roads, what matter?
So why doesn’t anybody use snow fencing anymore? The problem areas on Highway 62 this morning were along sections where there were wide open farm fields alongside the highway, and the snow whipping unimpeded across those fields and into the pathway of the vehicles was quite something to see – impressive, if you didn’t have to deal with the fallout from behind the wheel.
Doubtless it was a pain in the neck for farmers to put the snow fence out every fall and take it in again in the spring. But they did it, God bless them. Why not now? Were there once regulations requiring it that are no longer in place?
What’s the story here, people? I know that at least some of you must know. Please share!