Cold weather and heavy snow a blessing for northern B.C. winter festivals

Outdoor winter festivals in Fort St. John and Prince George are pleased with this weekend's cold temperatures and heavy snow after warm weather dampened celebrations in 2017.

Warm temperatures, lack of snow have dampened previous celebrations

In 2017, dumptrucks of snow had to be brought in to create a slide and other creations for Prince George's Downtown WinterFest. (Downtown PG)

The organizers of outdoor winter festivals in Fort St. John and Prince George are pleased with this weekend's cold temperatures and heavy snow after warm weather dampened celebrations in 2017.

"Last year at this time, we were frantically finding snow," said Downtown Prince George Winterfest coordinator Heidi Martel.

The annual celebration of winter includes snow sculptures and a slide outside city hall, but a lack of snow last year meant the city had to bring in dump trucks of snow from other parts of the community in order to pull things off.

"This year, we have all the snow we need," Martel said.

In fact, crews have been working around the clock to keep streets clear as heavy snowfall hit the Interior and northern parts of the province this week, prompting school closures and public warnings.

Now, though, the snowfall warning has lifted and Martel's hopes are high for a perfect winter weekend with sun and temperatures of –10 C forecast.

Ryan Cook is part of the team of ice carvers working on sculptures for Fort St. John's High on Ice festival. (City of Fort St. John)

In Fort St. John it's much the same as the city gears up for the 14th annual High on Ice Festival and the return of the ice carving competition.

It was cancelled in 2015 because of extreme cold temperatures, then in 2016 because it was too warm. In 2017 heavy wind and mild temperatures made the sculptures unstable and they had to be destroyed.

This year, though, the conditions are "perfect," said carver Ryan Cook, who has been working on his creation all week alongside ice sculptors from Russia, Poland and elsewhere in Canada.

Fort St. John's High on Ice festivities occur throughout the long weekend. Prince George's Downtown Winterfest happens Sunday.


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