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