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Planes, power and automobiles struggle under first Okanagan snowfall

Click to play video: 'First snowfall of the season catches many Okanagan residents off guard'
First snowfall of the season catches many Okanagan residents off guard
The amount of snow that came down across the valley was a surprise to many including some city crews tasked with clearing roads. In Kelowna, some areas received close to a foot of snow. Many residents spent the day digging out from the first snowfall of the season. But as Klaudia Van Emmerik reports, they may be doing it all over again this weekend – Nov 4, 2022

The first snowfall of the season unleashed chaos on the Okanagan.

Environment Canada forecast somewhere between 10 and 15 centimetres of snow and it didn’t disappoint. A thick blanket of snow landed on the Okanagan with a thud Friday, courtesy of an atmospheric river.

Read more: Another atmospheric river to bring heavy rain, snow to B.C.’s South Coast, Central Interior

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“Wet snow will gradually transition to periods of rain by noon,” read the alert.

Periods of rain couldn’t wash away all that fell, however, and the heavy, wet snow then stymied commuters.

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According to Ryan Watters with the Kelowna RCMP, there were five calls for weather-related crashes in the Central Okanagan Friday morning as the work commute got underway. No roads were reported closed but drivers did take to social media to lament the slow commute.

Over at the Kelowna International Airport, communications adviser Cassie Brannagan said there were a handful of flight delays.

Flights to Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton were pushed back an hour or more while one flight to Terrace was cancelled.

Click to play video: 'Snowfall in B.C. mountain passes a reminder to prepare for winter conditions'
Snowfall in B.C. mountain passes a reminder to prepare for winter conditions

“We are experiencing flight delays due to winter conditions, but our crews are working to get people out on their way as soon as possible,” Brannagan said, adding that travelers should check with their airline if they have a flight booked.

“It’s not a large volume (of delays) but we understand that has a large impact on customers travelling with us.”

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Click to play video: 'Snow delays several flights at YLW'
Snow delays several flights at YLW

Even some who weren’t on the move had to deal with some snow-related inconveniences.

Fortis BC put out an alert mid-morning saying that 1,300 customers in Kelowna had their power go out due to “adverse weather.”  Many outages were restored within hours.

City crews tasked with keeping local roads clear, however, will be carrying on for much longer.

Geert Bos, infrastructure operations department manager at the City of Kelowna, said that his crew was caught off-guard by the heavy snowfall.

Click to play video: 'Kelowna Weather Forecast: November 4'
Kelowna Weather Forecast: November 4

“It was not very expected,” Bos said. “We were planning for a little bit of snow, about an inch or two at the valley bottom … but certainly not the stuff we’re seeing now.”

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Bos has had reports on snowfall from all around Kelowna and said up to 15 centimetres has fallen on Black Mountain.

“Even down in the valley bottom, you’ll see probably about (five to seven centimetres),” he said.

Read more: City of Kelowna, B.C. says road crews are ready for snow forecast

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Crews started clearing the roads at 2 a.m., and will likely continue until late into the evening.

“And then of course we have a whole bunch of shovelling snow and bus stops and stairs and all that kind of stuff,” Bos said.

Snow also knocked down trees, and Bos said the city has had 15 reports so far of downed trees and branches on public property.

Click to play video: 'Winter shelter in dire need in Kelowna as the weather gets cold'
Winter shelter in dire need in Kelowna as the weather gets cold

“By all means, feel free to call the city if you see any limbs that have broken off,” he said. “They might not be removed immediately … we’ll deal with the hazards first. But then, as we start going along, we’ll come back and clean it up.”

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More snow is forecast in the next four days, though how much remains unclear.

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