May 22, 2024

Underground Springs can cause Road Havoc during Winter Freeze

Underground springs can cause road havoc during winter freeze

It’s become an established seasonal norm around our place that underground springs can cause road havoc during winter freeze.

I tickled your sense of mystery with one story about the formation of unusual river ice in yesterday’s post. Well here’s another one about ice to prod your imagination into coming to terms with what underground springs are capable of accomplishing in the ice department during any given winter up here.

These springs just happen to flow mostly underground beneath a firebreak cut-line running down the long hill beyond our property line, and seep into a diversion ditch dug many years ago across the cut line to capture their flow. At least that was the plan and for a number of years it actually worked according to that plan, as the winter ice flows generated by these springs pretty much stayed within the confines of that ditch.

But that original plan is now considered officially broken, and once again the past few years have seen these springs begin to perform their strange underground dance that have led to some reasonably serious surface icing issues.

Underground springs are subject to the vagaries of the pressure levels and degree of frost penetration into the ground, and any abnormal disturbance of those levels can lead to some interesting problems being driven to the surface in the form of unwanted ice flows.

It can be as simple a thing as even walking over the snow covered ground area of the springs that will cause such a disturbance, because a single set of footprints will drive the frost deeper into the ground and cut off an already established direction of natural flow for those springs, forcing it to find an alternative route.

Last year saw such an alternatively forced route cause it to flow over our driveway and into one end of the yard, covering it with solid ice over two feet thick. It even pressured up under and around our outdoor storage shed and filled it with a layer of ice six inches thick – and yes, we lost some items due to ice and water damage as a result.

Fifteen or so years ago it got so thick in its flow over our driveway that a cut performed by a grader’s blade to bring it back to road level left behind a wall of solid ice near four feet high.

This year it’s not so bad yet as those other years and naturally we hope it won’t get as bad for us again. As you can see in the attached pictures this time it’s only overflowing the driveway entrance and carrying on down the road, which is where the potential road havoc comes into play for vehicles coming uphill to either turn into our yard or proceed to the turnaround at the end of the road.

Pressurized ice puddle from which all the rest is flowing downhill

I made sure our dog Seew was in a couple of those pictures just because she’s so darn cute. Okay, okay – while that fact is certainly true, I actually included her to lend a sense of perspective to that ice flow for you.

Ice flow running downhill from our driveway entrance

For overall reasons of winter road safety and to make sure that we can safely traverse our annual ice patch, you can bet I’ve made sure our vehicles are equipped with the best snow and ice tires known to Man and they handle this ice just fine too.

Now you know a little bit more about underground springs and how they can cause road (and other) havoc during a winter’s freeze.


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