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Okanagan snowstorm breaks 120-year-old record for most snow in October

Click to play video 'Record-setting snowfall in the Okanagan' Record-setting snowfall in the Okanagan
Record-setting snowfall in the Okanagan – Oct 23, 2020

A 120-year-old record for most snowfall on an October day has been broken in Kelowna.

The previous record was 12.7 cm in 1899, according to Environment Canada.

Kelowna is currently sitting at around 13 cm of snowfall for the day.

And in Penticton, the South Okanagan city matched a 95 year-old record at 11 cm of snowfall.

Read more: Coronavirus: Dates of COVID-19 outbreak at Okanagan school expanded, 11 cases now confirmed

Residents were up bright and early, shovelling and just enjoying the early wintery day.

“The first time you wake up to this is awesome. I think it’s awesome,” said West Kelowna resident Ivo Damme.

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Damme and his son were out walking their dog, and he says the early winter weather is not a problem for him.

“No, just slow down a bit (when driving), and enjoy the weather. This is gorgeous,” said Damme.

Read more: Highway 33 east of Kelowna reopened to traffic, but Highway 3 east of Osoyoos now closed

Global Okanagan meteorologist Peter Quinlan gave us an update on the region’s snow storm.

“We’ve got this moisture-laden low pressure system passing by the south of the region, and an arctic front pushing in from the north,” explained Quinlan.

“The moisture associated with that system is being squeezed out as snow because temperatures from the ground level right up into the mid-levels of the atmosphere are below freezing.”

The City of Kelowna has issued a warning, cautioning that the heavy snowfall can lead to hazards such as snow-laden branches and even entire trees that could fall. 

That’s because fall leaves are still left on trees. 

Read more: B.C.’s Southern Interior undergoing first major snowfall of season

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Staff say road-clearing crews have been working since 4 a.m.

“We’re all hands on deck, we’re out and about with all the trucks we got,” said Stephen Bryans, the City of Kelowna’s roadways operations supervisor.

“We’re scrambling a bit. We didn’t quite expect this much snow, but the first snowfall is always the hardest.”

There are multiple power outages throughout the valley with a major outage in Summerland, affecting about 1,600 customers.

Looking forward, Peter Quinlan says the snowfall should be short lived.

“We’re going to see the snow continue to fall through Friday night, and will taper off early Saturday morning,” said Quinlan.

“I think by daybreak, the majority of the snow will have ended in the valley bottom.”

The forecast is calling for cold temperatures that will turn the melting snow into ice, but into next week, the snow and ice is expected to melt with warmer daytime highs.

Click to play video 'Snow, cold front expected to chill southern B.C.' Snow, cold front expected to chill southern B.C.
Snow, cold front expected to chill southern B.C – Oct 22, 2020