Winter is a part of life in the West Kootenay but its arrival often catches people by surprise.
Such was the case on Tuesday as residents woke up to a variety of levels of snow accumulation from 22 centimetres in high elevations to a light covering in the valley.
“We had a cold air mass for a couple of days then some moisture came up from the south,” explained Chris Cowan, weather forecaster for the Southeast Fire Centre.
“But I don’t think winter is here for good yet.”
He added there was over 15 ml of rain recorded in Castlegar Tuesday morning while snow dumped over 20 cm in the mountain ranges.
“There’s a base of snow (in the mountains) that won’t go away. Some of it will melt but not all of it.”
That’s good news for skiers but bad news for drivers.
The West Kootenay Traffic Service was reporting several small accidents over the last few days including one Tuesday morning between the Nancy Greene Junction and Castlegar. Two people were reportedly taken to the Trail hospital.
“Unfortunately this is usually what we see in the first week or two after the first snowfall,” said Sergeant Derrick Donovan.
“We’ve had a few accidents over the last couple of days on the passes.”
He also warned motorists of black ice. With near freezing temperatures and the road surface even cooler, the chance of black ice forming is very high.
Cowan said drivers should expect those conditions for the rest of the week.
“It could be messy in the passes but it should clear up by Sunday.”
Drive BC was reporting Tuesday morning of compact snow and slushy sections all the way from Christina Lake to Trail and from Trail to Salmo.
Meanwhile with the sudden snow comes the sudden surge of motorists looking to put winter tires on their vehicles. And Tuesday was no exception.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said Verna Dickson at OK Tire in Trail. “In all the years we’ve had the business I don’t remember it being this booked up this far in advance.”
At Integra Tire in Trail Larissa Johnson said the shop was filled for the day and already had a list of cars to attend to today.
She said the nice weather for most of October kept people from thinking about winter tires.
“But the season changed so quickly,” she added.
The immediate forecast is calling for rain for the next couple of days with snow at higher elevations.