Heavy dump of snow wreaks havoc on Okanagan

A massive snowfall has frozen activity around the Okanagan, closing schools and stymieing normal Monday activity.

Micah Jensen cleaning his driveway while dog Nova frolics in the snow

Activity around the Central Okanagan was frozen as the week started with what’s shaping up to be a record-breaking snowfall.

“It’s not quite over yet, but I’d say we’re pretty close to setting a record,” said Doug Lundquist, meteorologist for Environment Canada, Monday afternoon from his UBC Okanagan office.

“This is the heaviest snowfall any of us here can remember in at least 20 years.”

According to the numbers, the  region’s heaviest snowfall to-date was 32.5 cm, recorded Jan. 17 and 18, 1975 at the airport.

By mid-afternoon Monday that mark was being closed in on, but snow was expected to fall for another 24 hours.

Once it passed, freezing rain was on the agenda.

The cause for the unusual dump of sow came from what Lundquist called “a clash of the air masses.”

Moist air coming in from the south, near Hawaii and California, collided with a cold blast of winter air coming in from Alberta.

“We are in the in-between zone,” he said. “It’s a clash of air masses —a big clash.”

The clash caused a number of delays and cancellations at the airport—click here to see if any flights you’re waiting for are affected— and for the first time in nearly four decades schools in the Central Okanagan School District were closed.

“There will be a minimal administrative presence at all schools. However, teachers and support staff will not be at work to provide regular teaching service,” read the SD23 website.

The UBC Okanagan campus is open today, but as weather and travel conditions worsened they decided to cancel classes starting at noon or later. Click here for updates.

University students, faculty, and non-essential services staff are encouraged to travel home during daylight hours this afternoon and parents of school aged children were strongly encouraged to keep their children at home today.

After all, even a number of outdoor destinations have been shut down due to the snow. In particular, is the Stuart Park ice rink. Click here for a regular update on what’s happening there.

While the Stuart Park ice rink is closed, the City of Kelowna’s snow removal crews are particularly busy.

Snow removal trucks are working non-stop to clear streets and city staff are requesting that residents  help the snow clearing process by moving their vehicles off the roads. Without vehicles in the way, crews are much more efficient and able to get through each area more quickly and on to the next section of road.

“This has been an extreme snow event and all City crews are out working on the high-traffic roads. These Priority 1 streets will be the focus until the storm blows over,” said Stephen Bryans, Roadways Operations Supervisor. “We’ll also have additional contractors tackling the residential areas later today.

The City clears snow and de-ices municipal roads (excluding highways 33 and 97) based on their priority status. Priority 1 includes high-traffic roads such as Gordon Drive. Priority 2 includes collector roads such as Richter Street, bus routes, school zones, town centers and emergency vehicle stations. Priority 3 includes local roads within neighbourhoods and Priority 4 includes laneways.

While the City keeps the roads clear, residents are responsible for clearing snow from their private driveway and sidewalks adjacent to their property. Some residents find snow clearing a difficult task, particularly seniors and those with an injury or disability. The City encourages residents to help out their neighbours by becoming a Snow Buster.

The Fire Department is also asking residents to clear snow away from fire hydrants in front of their property. This ensures easy access in the case of emergency.

For regular inquires and emergency plowing or sanding after regular business hours, please call 250-469-8600, option 1. Residents can also report a problem online by visiting kelowna.ca/servicerequests.

For more information about snow removal  visit kelowna.ca/transportation.

The storm is also offering an opportunity to dust off your emergency supplies. The Central Okanagan Regional District says you should be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours. Visit www.cordemergency.ca to learn more.

 

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