Drivers face immediate adjustment to snow

The winding, steep road up into Knox Mountain Park closed for the season Wednesday and one only has to look out the window to know why.

This collision occurred on Highway 97 near the Landmark Towers

The winding, steep road up into Knox Mountain Park closed for the season Wednesday and one only has to look out the window to know why.

Just in the first couple of hours of yesterday’s snowstorm, police responded to six collisions involving 13 vehicles, most in West Kelowna. Police advised drivers to slow down so they have time to react to what’s happening in front of them.

An Arctic front brought in a couple of centimetres of the white stuff and dropped it in the valley bottom, while three times that amount was added to a blanket of it that fell earlier in the week at higher elevations.

Meteorologist Doug Lundquist with the Environment Canada weather services office says this front has passed through, but another is expected to go through Friday, if it hasn’t moved too far south. If so, a further five to 10 centimetres could be added in the valley.

He explained that he’s reluctant to predict amounts because storms can track slightly north or south and easily miss the valley. However, he said it is expected to warm up over the weekend, so there’s a chance of another snowfall, which will likely melt not long after it falls.

Except for a brief period Wednesday morning in Penticton, when the mercury dropped to -9 C, temperatures are not expected to reach the required -8 C long enough to allow hardy pickers to pluck the hard little frozen grapes to press and make icewine this week.

However, Lundquist noted this is expected to be a winter affected by La Nina, the cooler ocean currents from along the South American coastline which result in temperatures a degree or two colder than normal during the Okanagan winter.

That means there will likely not be a shortage of opportunities to pick frozen grapes in the coming months. This will be back-to-back La Nina years, which is not that unusual, he said, but it’s particularly noticeable because since the 1980s we’ve had warmer-than-normal winters here.

Computer-generated information also predicts an 80 per cent chance that this winter, December through February, will be colder than average.