Jenny Kimble

Jenny Kimble

Residents endure frigid conditions

Winter’s chill is forcing North Okanagan residents to bundle up and the situation is particularly difficult for the homeless.

Winter’s chill is forcing North Okanagan residents to bundle up and the situation is particularly difficult for the homeless.

The Gateway shelter has experienced demand for emergency beds as the temperature has plunged, with an overnight low of minus 20 forecast.

“It’s been steady,” said Kelly Fehr, Gateway manager.

Up to 20 emergency beds are available in Vernon when the temperature reaches minus 1 or colder and the regular beds at Gateway (28)  and Howard House (25) are occupied.

There’s been an average of three people accessing the emergency beds in the last few days.

“If the weather continues like this, we expect as many as 10 people by the end of the week,” said Fehr.

The need to stay warm has also led to more traffic at the Upper Room Mission during the day.

“People are visiting, using the computer lab or helping with chores here,” said Lisa Froom, Upper Room Mission general manager.

While some of the mission’s clients are homeless, some do have homes but the living conditions are less than ideal, particularly in cold weather.

“I have heard stories of inadequate heat in places,” said Froom.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of minus 15 today and an overnight low of minus 20. On Thursday, the high could be minus 10 while the low is minus 16.

The record low ranges from minus 33 to 36, while the norms for this time of year are a high of minus 1 and a low of minus 5.

It could warm up Friday, with a minus 12 low and a high of minus 3 forecast.

But the North Okanagan could also be blanketed with a layer of snow.

“Friday could be a real dump day (for snow) and it could continue into Saturday and Sunday,” said Doug Lundquist, an Environment Canada meteoroligist.

Snowfall of up to 10 centimetres is possible, with higher levels near Okanagan Lake.