Okanagan crews prepared for significant shift into winter conditions

Click to play video: 'Crews preparing for shift into winter conditions'
Crews preparing for shift into winter conditions
WATCH: Crews across the Okanagan are preparing for a shift into more winter-like conditions. As a snowfall warning is in place for the Okanagan and surrounding highways – crews are on standby to help keep roadways clear. Taya Fast reports. – Jan 8, 2024

It has been a light start to winter in B.C.’s Southern Interior, but extremely cold temperatures and a significant amount of snow could blanket parts of Okanagan this week.

According to Environment Canada, light snow is expected to fall Monday afternoon and will intensify throughout the evening. The snow will continue on Tuesday, while flurries are expected on Wednesday.

“After a very mild month of December, definitely seeing that shift into more winter-like conditions in the Southern Interior of British Columbia as the temperature is a little bit closer to seasonal,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau.

“And with a low-pressure system that’s moving onto the coast of B.C., expected to track across the Interior in the coming days, we do have snow in the forecast for a lot of Southern B.C.”

Click to play video: 'Unhoused population braces for frigid temperatures'
Unhoused population braces for frigid temperatures

Environment Canada has issued a number of snowfall warnings for the Okanagan and other areas in the Southern Interior.

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Local areas can expect up to 10 centimeters Monday evening through until Wednesday morning. Higher elevations could see higher amounts of snow.

“We also have snowfall warnings for several of the high-elevation highway passes. Trans Canada through Rogers Pass, and Eagle Pass as well. And we have winter storm warnings for Coquihalla between Hope and Merritt to Kelowna, Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton,” said Charbonneau.

“There we can see 30 to 50 centimeters of snow between now and Wednesday. So definitely much more snowy winter-like conditions. Anybody who’s travelling, it’s time to make those preparations for winter conditions, especially over the highways.”

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Although a significant shift in to winter conditions, Environment Canada is forecasting a warmer and drier winter overall.

“Over the three months, we have been forecasting warmer conditions. But within that, you can still have these colder spells and that’s what we’re seeing right now,” said Charbonneau.

“You can never completely count winter out in this part of the world.”

Click to play video: 'Dry, warm winter could spell trouble for wildfire season'
Dry, warm winter could spell trouble for wildfire season

Meanwhile, in Penticton, city crews are aware of the incoming weather and remain on standby for when the snow does fall in town.

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“We’ve been prepping over the last couple of months with training and getting the crews prepping and getting the equipment ready to go,” said City of Penticton Public Works manager Scott Boyko.

“The late start to winter, it’s been nice but over the last few days we’ve been putting out brine, saltwater solution that goes on all the roads and helps us with the start of our events.”

When the snow does fall, city crews will start clearing routes beginning with priority roads.

While residents are asked to look after the sidewalks in front of their properties. The Good Neighbor Bylaw outlines that at 11 a.m., after the end of a storm residents should have their sidewalks cleared.

“Our council policy sets out our different levels of roads and when we have to address them. Our main arterial roads are hills, bus routes, and transit routes, that’s our priority. Then we get into our residential roads and stuff as the storm allows us,” said Boyko.

“We just ask residents to drive to the conditions and to look after their sidewalks as in front of their properties and clear any catch basins that might be in need. If you’re able to help us with that and any neighbours that might need it would be great as well.”

Click to play video: 'Slow start to season at Apex Mountain'
Slow start to season at Apex Mountain

Outside of city limits, AIM Roads confirmed its crews are also ready to go at a moment’s notice.

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AIM Roads Contract manager Kevin McDonnell said they are keeping a close eye on some high spots around the Okanagan including the Connector, Big White, and Apex Mountain.

“We were actually preparing for this on Friday. Pulling trucks out, all our extra guys have been called in and everybody’s on call and we have material and trucks and everything in all the right places,” said McDonnell.

“Those are all our main routes and have lots of traffic on it. And then through Kelowna itself, but that one’s always all hands on deck.”

Officials are asking drivers to be mindful of crews when out on the road, to only travel when it is necessary, and to check DriveBC for the most up-to-date road conditions.

Click to play video: 'British Columbians welcome blast of winter weather on South Coast'
British Columbians welcome blast of winter weather on South Coast

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