Saturday April 19, 2014

Stay off the highways, weather forecaster warns

Freezing rain expected on Coquihalla and west Trans-Canada
Hugo Yuen

Workers de-ice a plane at Kamloops Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

As City streets crews cleared Wednesday’s snowfall, an Environment Canada meteorologist predicted a worse mess on the westward highways Thursday.

Doug Lundquist said freezing rain was in the forecast for the Coquihalla and Trans-Canada highways Thursday, which could make both routes treacherous.

“We think there’s a possibility of freezing rain on the Coq and in the Fraser canyon,” he said early Wednesday afternoon.

“I wouldn’t want to travel in the next 24 hours and I would check ahead of time.”

Wednesday’s snowfall was expected to accumulate to 10 to 15 centimetres overnight. Thursday’s high was expected to be around -1C, low enough to turn rain to an icy sheet on a mountain highway.

Kamloops airport manager Fred Legace said the snow slowed arrivals from other cities, but it didn’t cancel any flights.

“It is a weather system all over Western Canada. The aircraft are stuck at other airports. The aircraft have been getting in and out of Kamloops,” he said.

 “I didn’t hear of any cancellations. But we will have delays with these active storm systems.”

By the weekend, the temperature is expected to hover around 0C, and creep upward to about 5C by Monday or Tuesday.

“It’s gradual warming in the next week. That warm air will gradually work its way down,” Lundquist said.

“There is some slight hope if we do get the cooler weather, it bodes well for a white Christmas. But it is a long ways away.”

City plows were out on the streets as soon as the flakes began to fall, streets supervisor Joe Luison said.

“We’re trying to keep the roads as bare as we can right now,” he said.

The City’s $1.6-million snow budget wraps up at the end of this year. Luision said it’s about 75 to 80 per cent spent — which is about where it should be.

“We’re set to be right on par if we get the normal December we’re expecting.”

City crews use salt or magnesium chloride on the roads to keep them clear. The biggest challenges they face are trying to remove snow on high-traffic areas.

“They tend to compact up the snow. Arterials are priority one, collectors and bus routes are priority two and three is local roads.”

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