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Tow trucks busy due to temperature plunge

Herb Mathisen
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 12, 2008

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Yellowknifers got a cold dose of reality earlier this week as temperatures took a nose-dive Monday morning, bottoming out at -40 C early Tuesday. Judging by the number of calls some businesses have received, the cold seems to have caught some residents by surprise.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Kim Paul, left, and Bruce Jesso pose in front of their tow truck on Wednesday. Their company, D.J.'s Towing, received more than twice the usual number of calls on Monday and Tuesday, with cars refusing to start in -40 C temperatures. - Herb Mathisen/NNSL photo

The staff over at D.J.'s Towing were busy earlier this week.

"We've been crazy," said office manager Kim Paul. "Yesterday, we did 33 calls."

Paul said the company normally gets 15 calls a day.

"We didn't stop last night until midnight," Paul said on Wednesday morning. "We started at 7 a.m."

Paul said business typically picks up when the temperature dips below -30 C.

She said most of the vehicles they've towed have been taken to local mechanic shops to get block heaters installed or to get tires changed.

"Out of 33 calls yesterday, I didn't get one towed back to the yard," she said.

Some city residents may have put off their winter preparations due to the warmer-than-normal November, she said.

She also suggested weather forecasts may have had a part to play.

"The Weather Channel kind of lies to us, I notice," she said.

"When we were sitting at -10 last week and they said it was supposed to stay like that until the middle of December, then the next morning, we get up and it's freezing," said Paul.

She said some service shops are not taking bookings until next week because they are so full.

Garry Doering, service manager at Kingland Ford, said there has definitely been an increase in business as a result of the cold weather.

"It always increases when it gets cold," he said.

Doering said most of the visits are to deal with vehicles not starting.

A man who identified himself as Randy at Pick's Steam said he was too busy to answer questions about the amount of calls he had received about frozen pipes due to the cold snap.

On Wednesday, Const. Kathy Law said the RCMP had only received one call in the previous three days related to the cold weather.

"It's been quiet," she said.

Law said most calls they receive that are linked to the cold are for homeless or intoxicated people who need assistance.

"A male had fallen asleep in a building," she said. "He advised police officers that he was trying to stay warm."

Environment Canada is forecasting colder than normal temperatures through the end of the weekend.

Paul said the towing company is welcoming the cold weather because they also run 11 ice road trucks and the cold weather is helpful to the opening up of the roads.

"D.J.'s Towing is very happy with the cold weather, unlike most people in Yellowknife," she laughed.

The normal high in Yellowknife in December is around -19 C with a low of -27 C, according to Environment Canada.