City snowplow damaged before 'significant' 20+ cm snowfall
Castlegar’s wearing a blanket of white after more than 20 cm of snow fell last night and another four cm dropped today (along with two mm of rain). According to Southeast Fire Center weather forecaster Jesse Ellis, this is a significant snowfall, reaching about two-thirds of record levels for snowfall in a single day during Dec. or Jan. (For December, the record was set at 34 cm in 2012, and for January, it reached 32 cm in 1969).
Castlegar drivers are, apparently, up to the challenge though, as police say no accidents have yet been reported today(as of 4 p.m.) – this, compared to more than 40 motor vehicle incidents between Dec. 1 and Jan. 10, according to RCMP Sgt. Laurel Mathew.
“They were mostly rear-end (situations) or cars that slid into the ditch,” Mathew said. “Fourteen of them caused damage under $1,000, 21 caused damage over $1,000, and only eight caused injuries – relatively minor, non-life-threatening ones.”
One of those accidents, however, has created some snow-related hassle, putting one of the city’s five snowplows out of commission for an indeterminate length of time.
“On Jan. 7, one of our snowplow operators was stopped at the lights to 24 Street,” said director of Transportation and Civic Works Chris Barlow. “When he pulled out onto Columbia Avenue, unfortunately, a private vehicle ran the red light and hit the front corner (of the plow).”
The amount of damage means the vehicle has to be sent to a factory shop in Kelowna to be checked out and repaired, leaving the city one-fifth shy of its regular compliment of snowplows after a snowfall of more than 20 cm in less than a day. (The driver of the plow was not seriously injured, but is temporarily off work pending medical evaluation for impact-related issues. There’s no estimate yet on the cost of vehicular damages, but Barlow said it will unquestionably be in the thousands of dollars).
Barlow said crews are still out in force on city streets, though.
“We made some good progress today – we had a full shift in last night and another early this morning, a full afternoon shift, and crews coming in early tomorrow morning as well,” he said. “If we don’t get a bunch more snow tonight, we should be in pretty good shape with our priority (thoroughfares).”
He said the snow is at least a foot deep in some areas, and reminded residents to drive to the conditions.
“We really appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding when we’re dealing with this much snow.”