Lights out across the Okanagan as power lines fail to withstand first snow of the year

Heavy snowfall has knocked out power across the Okanagan, and wreaked havoc on local roads.

Heavy snowfall has knocked out power across the Okanagan, and wreaked havoc on local roads.

Around 2,500 Peachland residents have been in the dark and cold since 8 p.m. Tuesday night— with the exception of a middle-of-the-night three-hour reprieve— and things haven’t been significantly better in other parts of the valley, either.

BC Hydro representative, Dag Sharman, said Hydro is dealing with 43 outages today and the trouble can be chalked up to heavy, wet snow falling onto trees that have yet to lose their leaves.

“That means snow accumulates and in some cases branches and /or trees come down or it damages our equipment,” he said.

“The restoration process is difficult… We have all available crews on—there are even managers out on the field and contractors.”

As such, Peachland residents may not see power return until 9 p.m.

A representative for Fortis BC, which covers the Kelowna area, had a similar story.

“(The snow) was wet, heavy and widespread,” said Neal Pobran, media relations for Fortis.

Around 2,000 residents of Big White and Joe Rich have been electricity free for much of the morning, but they should see their power come back sometime this afternoon. Crews are just working to remove a tree from a line.

There’s also an outage in Glenmore, running from Valley Road to Dilworth. Crews are responding to that outage currently. Pobran did not have an answer as to what caused the outage, or how long it would take for power to return.

While home life has been challenging with those without power, it’s also throwing a wrench into educational plans at the Central Okanagan School District.  Originally Peachland, Oyama and Peter Greer elementary schools were without power, but it came back mid-morning. Peachland Elementary, however, was out for the day.

” The utility provider has indicated to us that the school may remain without power until at least noon.  Based on this, the decision has been made to contact parents and send Peachland Elementary students home or to an alternate location approved by their parents,” read a district update.

“Families who can pick up their children in Peachland are welcome to do so at their convenience.  Students who don’t have an alternative will be kept at the school.”

Buses have also been facing some challenges and have yet to get the job done.

The district had to wait for snow plows in order to reach the following areas:  Smith Creek, Tallus Ridge, upper Glenrosa, Highway 33 (Cardinal/Goudie/Philpott).  They eventually got to their destinations, but with delays.

Rides home are expected to operate on their regular routes at the end of the school day.

 

The slick nature of the roads have posed relatively little trouble for other motorists, said Const. Kris Clark, noting that drivers were cautious, although there were 11 crashes by mid morning.