Wednesday January 18, 2012

Local News

Snowmageddon

Wild weather brings Chilliwack to it's knees 

Staff/Voice photos

 

Prest Rd. looking south Wednesday morning. Police and Chilliwack Public Works shut this stretch of road down several times during the course of the day due to powerful winds and drifting snow.

 

other Nature showed just how much power she has over us Tuesday and Wednesday, blasting Chilliwack with icy, near-hurricane force winds and bringing traffic around the city to a complete standstill.

Snowmageddon arrived with a 51km/h punch and the wind howled in from the north east turning what would normally be soft, gentle flakes into a harsh arctic-like sandblaster. By Wednesday, the City Public Works was overwhelmed and they were forced to call independent contractors to assist with snow removal..

Despite the 41cm of snow that accumulated Tuesday and contrary to local media reports, no snowfall records were set. On January 16, 1962, 60cm fell on Chilliwack in one day. The January monthly snowfall average is 40cm.

On Monday, there was a multi-vehicle pile-up on Hwy. 1 east of Prest Rd. involving a semi tractor-trailer in the westbound lanes. No serious injuries were reported. The next day, the havoc continued as Hwy. 7 from Agassiz to Harrison was shut down due to whiteout conditions.

On Wednesday, as the storm picked up in intensity and continued to wallop the city, even the plows were having a hard time and getting stuck behind stalled traffic in the driving snow. Mounties and city workers closed Prest Rd. at Bailey due to snow drifts reported to be 6 feet deep in places.

Pure chaos. Drivers were abandoning vehicles in the middle of roads, and in places where snow plows had to get to and vehicles littered Chilliwack River Rd. which was also eventually closed to traffic. One Mountie said he slid sideways on the road and ended up in a snow bank just before noon on Wednesday.

Vedder Rd. was barricaded for the day at Stevenson when a tree came down on wires at Manuel, forcing drivers to use Evans Rd. which wasn't much better but crews manage to keep it open—barely.

Surprisingly, during the day, there were few power outages with the exception of the Promontory area. A tree fell on wires shutting off electricity to approximately 40 homes in the Banford-Parsons-Payne-Wincott area.

Just after 6 P.M., residents in the Promontory area endured another power outage as well as those living in the area of Extrom and Stevenson roads and in the Shawnigan-Yale and Prest Rd. areas.

City buses were late but still operating. HandiDART was reduced to essential service only.

Vehicles littered Chilliwack River Rd. and McGuire Road was a bottle neck with standing traffic as many tried in vain to divert around the Prest/Vedder Road closures.

A vehicle lost a wheel coming down Promontory on Prest Rd. and ended up blocking traffic. Police also dealt with a driver who decided to stop in the middle of Lickman Rd. and put his chains on.

Chilliwack RCMP are asking drivers to use their headlights at all times during this weather. Pedestrians need to exercise extreme caution. The Voice has received reports of many near misses. Compounding the dangerous driving conditions, freezing rain is forecast for Chilliwack on Thursday. According to Environment Canada, the weather will shift to rain on Friday and throughout the weekend.

To check the road conditions throughout BC visit: www.drivebc.ca

 

© Copyright (c) 2011 The Valley Voice