Old Man winter crept into the Kootenay region earlier this week, dusting the area with the first snowfall of the year.
But while the West Kootenay and Roger Pass saw heavy snowfall and had storm warnings in effect, the East Kootenay, including the Upper Columbia Valley, got off with a comparatively light dusting and no major incidents.
Most parts of the valley got about 10 to 15 centimeters of snow through the night of Sunday, January 4th and into the morning of Monday, January5th.
“It’s been busy since noon yesterday, it’s not really a huge amount of snow, but it it’s widespread and managed to hit every corner of the East Kootenay area,” said Mainroads East Kootenay general manager Al Sander speaking on the afternoon of Monday, January 5th, adding that at that point most of the roads had already been cleared off, and that he’d not heard many reports of cars driving off the road.
“The forecast is calling for more snowfall and possibly freezing rain tonight (Monday, January 5th), and we hope they’re wrong since freezing rain is never fun for anybody,” said Sander. “It is winter and we’re into a winter storm session so we’d like to remind people to slow down a little bit and allow more time for driving than they normally would.”
More snow seemed to have fallen in the northern parts of the valley, with about 12 to 15 centimetres outside the village office in Radium Hot Springs, about 10 centimeters in Invermere and just a bit more than three inches (7.5 centimeters) outside the village office in Canal Flats. Staff at all three municipal offices said crews were out keeping the streets clean, but no problems had been reported.
“It hasn’t been too bad, we seem to be making do,” said Radium Hot Springs chief administrative officer Mark Read. “We have our contractors out there, but we haven’t heard of anything major.”
“Our crew are ploughing and sanding this morning, but really we haven’t had that much snow here,” said Canal Flats chief administrative officer Brain Woodward.
Nobody from Parks Canada was immediately available for comment, but Drive B.C.’s status for Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park to Castle Junction (which is updated by Parks Canada) had the road status as normal. The website had a similar status for the rest of the highway 93/95 through the Upper Columbia Valley and other roads in the area.
The snowfall has not resulted in any accidents, according to the Columbia Valley RCMP
“We haven’t had any issues. People here know how to drive in the snow,” said Staff Sergeant Marko Shehovac.
While it may make commuters grumble, the snow is a boon for the valley’s winter tourism operators.
“It’s been great for us, for our visitors and for local skiers,” said Panorama Mountain Resort marketing manager Scott Morgan on Monday, January 5th. “The whole mountain has really good coverage today.”
Panorama Mountain Resort had nine centimeters of snowfall on the summit and 10 centimeters of snowfall in the village.