Winter weather wreaks havoc

Following issues with heavy, wet snow earlier this week, the South Okanagan should expect a cold snap.

Following issues with heavy, wet snow earlier this week, the South Okanagan should expect a cold snap.

“The current mild and wet or snowy conditions over the interior will turn dry and cold over the next few days,” said an Environment Canada weather office spokesperson.

It is expected an Arctic cold front will move to the southern interior on Friday, with temperatures reaching a low of -12C and highs of -8C by Sunday.

Linda Sankey, executive director of the South Okanagan Brain Injury Society, that helps run Penticton’s Cold Snap Inn to provide housing for homeless said this weekend will be the second time they have opened their doors this season.

“If the weather continues we are expecting to be open Friday evening counting through the weekend depending on the temperatures outside,” said Sankey.

Cold Snap Inn, located at Cheers the Church, was open for seven days in November with 10 people using the service. It includes a warm dinner, breakfast, access to showers and laundry machines. Those using the service, which can also accommodate families with children, can come to the back door of the church starting at 8 p.m. An outreach worker will also be in attendance to try and help people find more permanent housing.

“Our program here at SOSBIS saw 240 Pentictonites use our service in the last 12 months to find housing. We know there are more people out there it is just a matter of getting the word out,” said Sankey, who added they could use donations of winter clothing which can be dropped off at 996 Main St. and volunteers to help with food prep.

The first big snowfall of the season blanketed the South Okanagan overnight Tuesday. Environment Canada said 18 centimetres fell leaving school buses parked Wednesday morning and causing power outages around the region.

City of Penticton snow plows began working around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning. Due to slick conditions, crews had to chain up which added time to the response said city communications officer Simone Blais.

Snow brought down several trees around the city pushing them over onto power lines. The Westminster substation was off-line shortly on Wednesday morning, affecting about 4,000 homes. It was repaired by 4:45 a.m.

Summerland manager of utilities Devon van der Meulen said snowy conditions caused an unprecedented outage in the town.

“We did have a number of locations where meters have been damaged and some of those homeowners are reporting damage to electronics and appliances in their homes,” said van der Meulen. “We have never experienced that kind of thing with an outage like this.”

van der Meulen estimates there were 30-40 meters burned out and some exploded right off the house. Summerland utilities is in the process of having new ones installed. He said snow falling off the lines caused them to spring back, as well as trees, causing troubles with the different pass of wires slapping against one another.

“We are talking to electrical engineers to try and determine what may have caused that and if there is anything to do in the future to prevent it. We are also discussing with Fortis if there is anything to do on their end,” he said.