Keep your shovel handy - Monday's snow storm is forecast to deliver an encore this
The biggest snowfall so far this winter caused rollovers, fender-benders and at least one head-on crash during the morning commute on Monday. The next storm should dump five or more centimetres on the Central Okanagan after lunch today, but the volume will be less than the eight to 15 cm that fell Monday.
"It was a snow storm," said meteorologist Doug Lundquist of Environment Canada. "The next main storm is coming mid-day or later (today). It won't be quite as much."
Monday's heavy snow made the routine drive to work a slow and sometimes treacherous undertaking for many. Most of the white stuff tumbled down for two hours starting about 8 a.m. Plows did their best to clear the main routes, but roads were slippery and in some cases covered with corrugated ice.
"When the temperature outside is zero or minus one, it calls for scary conditions very quickly," said Stephen Bryan, who supervises roadway operations for Kelowna.
Some commuters refused to leave their driveway. Demand for taxis was so great, drivers could barely keep up. Checkmate Cabs had most of its 22-taxi fleet picking up fares.
"We are running off our feet," dispatcher Wolfgang Maschner said at 11 a.m. "We won't get a call for a couple minutes and then four lines light up. It's nuts out there . . . We're almost flat out."
Kelowna Cabs had 56 cars circulating Monday. The main job was getting people to work between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. The snow tires on each taxi help, said owner Amarjit Singh.
"Some people are scared. Maybe they don't have snow tires on and they call for cabs. They don't want to put themselves into
Tow truck drivers were also busy, righting overturned vehicles and hauling cars out of the ditch. Mario's Towing had 30 trucks on the road in Kelowna, including two large tandem trucks that pulled a Westjet airliner back onto the runway at Kelowna Airport.
Most people drive according to the weather conditions, said manager Nicholas Moretto. Others lose control or simply get stuck.
"They could be on the side of the road or in the driveway," Moretto said.
"They get out there and the car can't get through the initial accumulation of snow."
Minor crashes were common on Springfield Road. One motorist pulled out of Kirschner Road when his vehicle did a 360 and nearly hit a telephone pole, said Cam Fairholm of Captain Hook towing.
"Roads are slick, and when the plows go through it makes it really slick," he said. "There's just a lot of people stuck everywhere, trying to get out of the driveway and ditches."
The city's 21 plows, three graders and nine contractors had cleared the main routes by morning, the secondary streets like Richter and Ethel by evening and the residential roads by early this morning. They get extra slippery on snowy days when the temperature hovers around zero or slightly colder because the temperature and road surface combine to form ice more quickly, said Bryans.
The greatest snowfall on record for a Jan. 7 was 11 cm in 1991 at the airport. Sixteen cm fell at the Environment Canada office by UBCO in 2004.
December saw 32 cm of snow fall at the EC office, four cm less than normal. In November, we had six cm of snow - well below the normal of 15 cm, said Lundquist.
Ice-wine makers should mark Thursday on their calendars. Arctic air is forecast to blow into the Valley after possible rain on Wednesday. The mercury could dip to -10 C or colder - the optimal temperature to pick ice-wine grapes - by the weekend.
"We think we might see double digits throughout the city," said Lundquist.