Winter hit the Similkameen with a vengence last week as temperatures plummeted and the first significant snowfall of the season blanketed the valley.
Wednesday, Jan.18 proved to be the nastiest day of the week so far, with strong north winds creating a windchill that reached -30 Celsius in some localities. Steady snowfall throughout the day added another four to six centimetres to the four that had fallen earlier in the week.
Drifting and blowing snow in the Village of Keremeos made it almost impossible for village maintenance crews and business people to keep sidewalks and roads clean throughout the day. Driving throughout the region was also made difficult due to loose snow, which obscured traffic. While the driving lanes on area highways were clear for the most part, passing lanes tended to be icy and very slippery. Drivers, for the most part were adapting to the poor driving conditions, by slowing down or staying off the road altogether. In Keremeos, the driver of a pick up truck had the misfortune to stall in the westbound lane at the recently upgraded corner of Highway 3A and Seventh Street, resulting in traffic backups and confusion as drivers made their way around the stalled vehicle. The truck was moved out of the way about 15 minutes later.
Severe wind chills made the streets of Keremeos seem like a ghost town on Tuesday and Wednesday as residents made it a point to stay indoors.
The wind had died down considerably by Thursday, making it feel slightly warmer outside, in spite of temperatures still in the minus 10 to 15 degrees Celsius range.
By Friday afternoon, snow was falling once again. Police responded to several motor vehicle accidents in the area, including a three vehicle pileup at the north end of Yellow Lake, a single vehicle accident at Parsons Fruit Stand where a pickup truck collided with the building, and a three car accident on Lakehill and Linden Avenue in Kaleden.
Kaleden firefighters were also called out late Friday evening to a structure fire after an overheated chimney spread fire to an adjacent wall. Firefighters battled poor weather conditions as well as the fire, as roads were plugged with several centimetres of snow and wet and slippery conditions prevailed.
Saturday, Jan. 22 offered residents of the region an opportunity to clean up and dig out somewhat, as temperatures continued to moderate towards the freezing mark, and precipitation was spotty and limited.
Sunday brought more light snow in the late afternoon, but road maintenance crews were able to keep up with the accumulations, providing centre bare roads for Monday morning’s commute.
Several more centimetres of snow is anticipated this week, with temperatures expected to max out in the one to four degree above zero range during the day.