Accident on bridge hill on Sunday

Business as usual in Kelowna despite snow stymying commuters

Snow has completely blanketed the city, making driveways, roads and highways dangerously slippery.

  • Feb. 6, 2017 12:26 p.m.

Snow has completely blanketed the valley, making driveways, roads and highways dangerously slippery.

By sunrise Monday, there were already several reports of cars in ditches or stuck in snowbanks, which just added to the long list of issues Mounties had already been dealing with.

“The Kelowna Regional RCMP responded to just over 40 reports of motor vehicle collisions, of varying degrees of severity, all throughout the Central Okanagan,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

“The majority of the collisions reported to police, were motor vehicle incidents which involved property damage only. Several incidents involved damage to property such as, traffic light standards, light poles, utility poles, electrical boxes, fences, traffic signs, trees and of course other motor vehicles.”

Of the crashes in which individuals sustained injuries, those injuries were believed to be non-life threatening in nature.

“RCMP are urging motorists to ensure their vehicles are mechanically sound, properly equipped for winter driving and clear of any excess snow,” he said.

Related: Two people die in accident.

“Drivers are asked to allow themselves extra time to arrive at their destination, to slow down and adjust their speeds to the poor weather and road conditions. We ask that driver’s operate their vehicles cautiously and fully aware of the other vehicles and pedestrians around them, that they anticipate any hazards in the roadway well in advance and clearly indicate their intentions on the roadway.”

Drivers seemingly heeded the Mounties advice. One commuter called the Capital News to say they had an extra 45 minutes added to their commute from West Kelowna.

The snowfall was, in short, daunting and city crews were unable to keep ahead of it. Even Bernard Avenue had a heavy blanket over it in the morning, while residential side streets offered serious struggles to those who had to dig themselves out.

“We clear snow and de-ice approximately 1639km of lane every snow fall. Roads are cleared based on their priority status as set out by Snow and Ice Control Policy,” read a notice sent out by the city in the morning.

“Priority Two to Four roads will not be serviced until service levels of Priority One roads are achieved. If another storm occurs prior to completion of Priority Two – Four roads, attention will again shift to Priority One roads. “

Despite all these priorities causing havoc for area residents, they slid along like it was business as usual.

The Central Okanagan school district, for example, kept schools open. In the meantime, schools in Langley, Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Aggisiz, and Hope announced closures today.

Kelowna International Airport also was a hive of activity with planes coming in and out, with only some delays and cancellations noted.

“Mostly (the local delays) are due to de-icing, but all our aircraft that came in this weekend have taken off,” said Sam Samaddar Airport Director.

The only flight that didn’t make its scheduled landing in Kelowna this weekend was a Sunwing plane that had to land in Vancouver due to a medical emergency on-board. It was scheduled to makes its way to Kelowna Monday.

Although Kelowna crews did a commendable job keeping operations running, Samaddar said due to snow in Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle some of those flights had been cancelled.

Highway travel, however, has been a bit less manageable.

Highway 3 is closed in both directions this morning due to high avalanche hazard, DriveBC reports.

The closure is 30 kilometres west of Creston at Kootenay Pass. Its expected to reopen between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. An alternative route is available from Nelson to Creston via Highway 3A and the Kootenay Lake ferry, with an estimated travel time of 2.5 hrs.

Highway 3 is also closed from Elko to 10 km west of Fernie for the same reason, and from the junction with Highway 93 and 95 to Elko Tunnel.

An avalanche near Elko closed the road Sunday and Avalanche control work was underway early in teh morning.

The Trans-Canada Highway has reopened 13 km west of Revelstoke after being closed in both directions overnight due to a late-night vehicle incident.

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