Couple caught in Kootenay Pass avalanche

Rossland man recounts close call on Sunday afternoon on the Kootenay Pass

Kootenay Pass avalanche on Sunday afternoon. To the left of the photo are tracks from the Zanussi’s truck. (Brian Zanussi photo)

A Rossland couple was caught in an avalanche on the Kootenay Pass Sunday afternoon – all within a half hour of the highway being re-opened.

Brian Zanussi, his wife, and family dog were on their way back from a weekend in Kimberley when they were stuck in a huge back up of traffic on the Creston-side while the ministry carried out avalanche control.

Shortly after 3:30 p.m. the highway opened up and away they went in the couple’s Dodge pick up.

It wasn’t long after cresting the top of the pass and heading down toward Salmo that things took a scary turn.

Brian recalls seeing bits of snow starting to tumble down the hill, and his wife giving a warning cry.

Before he knew it, the rear of the vehicle driving ahead was impacted by a rush of snow and propelled forward. Brian recalls the snow carrying his truck dangerously close to the steep embankment on the left-hand side.

“The snow was fast, you couldn’t outrun it,” he said. “But it was calm, like a river of snow.”

Other than being shaken up, thankfully no one was hurt.

The vehicles involved were damaged, and Brian says his truck is in the shop for a wheel re-alignment (snow from the avalanche had packed tightly into the wheel wells).

Because the ministry had just finished avalanche control, a crew was not far down the hill from where the incident occurred.

The highway was again closed so workers could clear the avalanche which Brian estimates was about six feet high and 30-or-so-feet wide.

DriveBC issued an advisory on Sunday afternoon that the Kootenay Pass would remain closed until 11 p.m. for avalanche deposit removal. Notably, the highway stayed closed until approximately 2 a.m. Avalanche control was again underway Monday morning and afternoon.

Shortly after Brian left the Trail Times office on Monday, the Ministry of Transportation issued a warning that spring snowstorms were expected to hit Southern Interior highways.

“Environment Canada has issued warnings and special weather statements for the Southern Interior, as heavy snowfall is expected on many British Columbia highways within the next 24 hours,” the advisory reads.

Although spring has officially arrived, weather can change quickly on high mountain passes, and drivers can still encounter challenging conditions.

Snow is expected to start falling in the Southern Interior this afternoon, with as much as 30 centimetres expected on Highway 3 from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass by tomorrow morning.

Ten to 15 centimetres of snow are forecast for the Coquihalla between Hope and Merritt, Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton, and sections of Highway 97 and 97C.

In other areas, 10 to 20 centimetres are expected for the Trans-Canada Highway from Eagle Pass to Rogers Pass. The South Peace River region could see 15 to 25 centimetres.

The ministry’s road and bridge maintenance contractors are prepared for this late season storm, and will fully deploy resources as needed to ensure public safety.

While winter tire and chain regulations ended March 31, it’s a good idea to keep vehicles equipped and to check DriveBC before setting out, especially if you are travelling mountain passes in the Interior and northern parts of the province.

The ministry recently announced several enhancements to winter maintenance and preparation that will go into effect next winter, including extending winter tire and chain regulations on select highways to April 30.

Other changes include improved oversight of highway maintenance contractors, stricter commercial vehicle chain-up restrictions and fines, and investing $1.8 million over the next three years in additional weather stations and overhead message signs to provide better real-time weather and road condition information.

For travel information, available 24/7, go to: www.DriveBC.ca

 

Brian Zanussi photo

Just Posted

Bounty on West Kootenay northern pike

$10 a head reward for northern pike caught in Columbia, Kootenay and Pend d’ Oreille Rivers.

What you see …

If you have a recent photo to share email editor@trailtimes.ca

McEwan’s summer reading suggestions

Trail Times Columnist Louise McEwan says, “Time to pick up a book and escape. Happy summer reading!”

Trail trainer heads to Montreal for national body fitness competition

Cheryl Hutchinson started her fitness journey six years ago

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

B.C. baseball team offers funeral prize pack

Wednesday’s West Coast League game in Victoria features draw for end-of-life package

Black Press Media journalists win big at Canadian community newspaper awards

Newsrooms earn recognition for editorial and photography excellence

Interior Health against needle buyback programs

IH issues formal release stating buyback programs are not feasible

Riptide, CVUSC paved the way for varsity soccer players

Chloe Gummer has become a leader at VIU

B.C. woman disappointed after family asked for ID at townhouse complex pool

Surrey woman says it’s not the first time she has experienced racial profiling at the complex

Park pipeline protesters say arrest is a ‘declaration of war’

Group behind North Thompson River Provincial Park occupation protest says arrest is ‘declaration of war’

A day of deals at Amazon, and at its rivals

Online retail giant extends annual ‘Prime Day’ promotion to 36 hours

Alert B.C. campers raise alarm and avert potential propane disaster

Salmon Arm camper lodges a complaint with Technical Safety BC after motorhome tank is over-filled.

Most Read