Eight-year-old Braden Sawatzky helps his mom Krista dig out their Coldstream driveway Monday morning as he stays home for the day due to the closure of schools across the district.

Eight-year-old Braden Sawatzky helps his mom Krista dig out their Coldstream driveway Monday morning as he stays home for the day due to the closure of schools across the district.

Snow storm smothers region

It’s the snow storm that brought the North Okanagan to a standstill

It’s the snow storm that brought the North Okanagan to a standstill.

Flakes began falling Saturday and by the time they stopped Monday night, about 40 centimetres had piled up although accumulations vary depending on the area.

“It’s a storm to remember,” said Lisa Coldwells, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

About 40 centimetres fell in the Vernon area – the most snow over two days since 1937 (50 centimetres Feb. 20 and 21).

The constant snow led to poor road conditions and that resulted in closure after closure – schools, the college, the Lake Country municipal office, the  Vernon Film Society presentation and recreation programs. Lumby council was cancelled, businesses shut their doors and even transit ground to a halt for much of Monday.

In Enderby, the Tuesday afternoon skate at the arena was shelved.

“The arena is not accessible and we are moving parks and recreation staff to public works to bolster snow clearing efforts,” said Tate Bengtson, chief administrative officer, in a release Monday.

Road maintenance crews in all communities worked flat-out.

“It’s been a challenge,” said James Rice, Vernon’s public works manager.

“As the snow was falling, you were continually repeating what you had done.”

The main roads are done in Vernon and crews are now tackling residential areas.

It’s expected neighbourhoods will be cleared by today depending on the weather, and there will be overnight cleanup in the downtown core and on 32nd Street, 27th Street and 48th Avenue.

“We hope to re-establish the parking areas,” said Rice, adding that sidewalks along city property will also be a priority.

Vernon has 11 plow trucks, three bobcats, one loader and two graders, and contract forces have also been utilized. Under the national safety code, crews are only allowed to drive 13 hours and they must have an eight-hour break.

“Driver fatigue is a concern,” said Rice, adding that Vernon has 584 lane-kilometres of road.

Rice admits there have been some public complaints about road conditions.

“Most people have been really good and understanding. When you get one-and-half-feet in one snowfall, it’s going to cause disruption.”

In Spallumcheen, keeping the 400-lane kilometres of road cleared has been difficult.

“We’ve been keeping our head above water,” said Ed Forslund, the township’s public works manager.

“The main roads are not bad and we have something for everyone. There are a couple of dead-ends that we have contractors cleaning out.”

Spallumcheen has a five-member crew (one fell during the storm and broke their leg) and a couple of contractors.

“We don’t have unlimited resources,” said Forslund, adding that there were some equipment issues.

The sheer volume of the snow was daunting.

“Room runs out to push it because the snow banks are so high,” said Forslund.

JPW Road and Bridge clears snow on highways in the North Okanagan-Shuswap and residential roads in the electoral areas.

“It’s the heaviest snow I’ve experienced and I’ve been here since 1991,” said Joe Wrobel, president.

“We knew it was coming and we prepared our equipment. But the snow just kept coming and we had to focus on the main roads.”

In one case, it took a grader six hours to clear Hartnell Road in the BX Monday.

“Our operators have been working steady. Guys have been coming in on their day’s off,” said Wrobel.

Some residents have expressed concern about the limited plowing in neighbourhoods.

“We are doing the best we can,” said Wrobel.

“The public has been generally understanding. Everyone realized what we were facing.”

It appears that the worst is over weather wise for at least the next few days.

“There will be low clouds for the rest of the week, minus 2 overnight and plus-two during the day,” said Coldwells.