Spring Thaw in Canada: What it means for your shipment

Spring Thaw in Canada:
What it means for your shipment

During the transition of winter to spring, temperatures tend to fluctuate on a daily basis following a pattern of warmer days and colder evenings, which can cause damage to the roadways.

During the day as temperatures increase, snow and ice on the roadways begin to melt, soaking the soil underneath with water and trapping moisture beneath the pavement. As the temperature drops in the evening, water that was retained in the soil begins to freeze, causing the foundation to expand, eventually displacing the pavement. Each time this cycle occurs a void is left between the levels,  causing the roadway to be more susceptible to damage from vehicle use. As a way to mitigate the damages that are caused during this window of time, regions put in place seasonal weight restrictions for heavy vehicles.


How are the thaw restrictions determined?

Restrictions are implemented for both the weight and size of vehicle loads based on highway class, annual frost levels, and road tolerance tests. Some regions also use sensors across their road networks to help with monitoring the thaw rate. Because weather conditions are an unpredictable, but important variable in determining the thaw periods, the restriction timeframes are updated as required. It is also important to note that restrictions can vary between provinces and that not every region will have the same limitations in place.

How will the restrictions affect my shipments?

It is crucial that transportation companies remain up to date with spring thaw restrictions. If not, it may lead to delivery delays, unexpected costs, or even lost or damaged freight. When carriers attempt to avoid routes with restrictions, this can result in extended delivery times outside of desired delivery windows. Carriers must also ensure their loads are under the expected limits per restriction guidelines to avoid incurring fines or being ordered to redistribute their loads, which could result in damages or goods being left behind.


How can I best prepare for the effects of the Spring Thaw?

Continue to be proactive and prepared by selecting a carrier that is informed on the latest restriction guidelines, and it is also recommended that your team be aware of the spring thaw restrictions that may affect your shipments as well. M-O has the current Spring Thaw restrictions for Quebec on our website here, and this document will continue to be updated as changes are made throughout the thaw period. If you have any questions about how the current thaw restrictions may affect your specific shipments, feel free to reach out to M-O’s customer service department for more information.

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