The small B.C. towns of Kitimat and Terrace are burrowing out from a record snowfall after receiving nearly two metres of snow from a Pineapple Express weather system that continues to bring heavy moisture to the B.C. coast.
The record for a 24-hour snowfall, set on Feb. 5, 1961, was 112 cm. Weather officials say Kitimat came close with 109 cm of snow in a 24-hour period.
Heavy snowfall and power outages resulted in the cancellation of all flights into the Kitimat-Terrace airport Friday. Crews worked on restoring power overnight, but hundreds of customers were still without power by noon Saturday.
The District of Kitimat opened its Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate a major snow clearing effort involving municipal crews and private contractors.
By midday Saturday, the district announced it had cleared many of the main roads, but side streets were still plugged.
However, fallen trees and downed power lines prevented snow removal on Kitamat Village Road which by midday Saturday still remained closed.
Residents were being asked to stay off the roads as municipal crews cleared streets.The district warned in a statement that venturing out and getting stuck would hinder snow removal.Search and Rescue personnel in snowmobiles were placed on standby, ready to mobilize if necessary in order to access difficult-to-reach homes.
'It may take a few days before life is back to normal.' - Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth
It also asked people to conserve water due to power outages which were having an impact on the town's pumping system.
Robin Rowland, a Kitimat resident, said Friday, that the snow had nearly reached rooftops on his street.
"The snow is piled up so high that you can hardly see out of the windows of the house," he said.
Residents asked to pull together
Kitimat Mayor Phil Germuth asked residents to pull together in an open letter to the community.
"The events of the past few days are of such significance that nobody could have been prepared to solve them in a matter of hours," he said. "It may take a few days before life is back to normal."
In times like these, it is important that as a community we work together. Please check on your neighbours, friends and family."
To listen to the full interview with Robin Rowland and Tyler Noble in Kitimat, click on the audio labelled Record-breaking snowfall blowing through Kitimat.