Yukoners slip and slide through snowy blast
Record snowfall and blowing snow in southern Yukon has created chaos on the territory's roads, to the point where RCMP are asking motorists in Whitehorse to stay off the roads over the next 24 hours if they can.
A total of 12 centimetres of snow descended upon Whitehorse between Sunday morning and Monday morning, breaking Environment Canada's record for biggest one-day snowfall in January, Whitehorse retired meteorologist Michael Purves said.
"This will be the largest one-day snowfall for Riverdale, for sure, and probably for Whitehorse for January," Purves, who runs an Environment Canada climate station from his backyard in Whitehorse's Riverdale neighbourhood, said Monday.
The previous record was 11.4 centimetres recorded on Jan. 19, 2003, Purves said.
Highway crews are clearing an avalanche Monday that has closed the South Klondike Highway south of Carcross, near the Yukon-British Columbia border.
Other highways in southern Yukon have blowing snow, snow-covered and icy sections, Whitehorse RCMP Sgt. Don Rogers said.
"It's a combination of everything: in some places the roads are extremely icy, in other places it's the blowing snow after you've passed an oncoming vehicle that's creating a lot of the problems," Rogers said.
"Everybody should be driving at less than the posted speed limit at this point in time."
The blowing snow led to a number of traffic collisions in Whitehorse alone on Sunday, including a four-car pileup on the Robert Campbell Bridge and a five-car collision on the Alaska Highway near the Kopper King.
Rogers said all the city's on-duty officers were busy dealing with traffic accidents on Sunday.
"Literally, collisions occurring in front of them," he said.
"You know, minor fender benders without injuries or major damage, but literally there was every member that was working reported seeing at least one collision personally."
No serious injuries have been reported to date, although a woman was hospitalized from the five-car collision.
Rogers said he expects many more crashes from the weekend to be reported over the next few days. He advises drivers who are reporting damages exceeding $1,000 to make sure they have all their proper paperwork with them.
Good day to stay home: RCMP
Snow-plow operators are working overtime to clear the city's streets, while many Whitehorse drivers spent Monday morning digging their vehicles out of high snowdrifts.
Until the weather improves and the city's streets are cleared, Rogers said residents should restrict their driving.
"Today would be a good day to sit down and read a good book or get caught up on work that you have around the home," he said.
"Certainly staying off the roads, if you don't need to be there, would be a good preferred option."
And Yukoners may have to do more shovelling and waiting yet: Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lindquist said the snowfall is not over yet.
"We'll get more periods of snow for the next week or so off and on," Lindquist said.
Plows are working non-stop at the Whitehorse airport, where officials say there have been only some minor flight delays.
Winter blast good for extreme challenge
The snowy blast served as a fitting backdrop to the 10th Fulda Challenge, an extreme-sports competition that began Monday in Whitehorse.
Fulda, a German tire manufacturer, holds the annual event amid the Yukon's rugged winter scenery to market its tires as high-performing cold-weather products.
"We say our winter tires, they offer high performance on ice and snow, so there's a link between our winter tires and the performance of the sportsmen in the event," challenge spokesman Christian Hieff said.
Ten teams, each consisting of two people, are spending the next week competing in events such as car handling, snowmobile racing, and running a half-marathon on the Dempster Highway near the Arctic Circle.
Nearly all the teams hail from Germany and Austria, but the lone Yukon team of Land Pearson and Sierra van der Meer say they hope their northern experience will get them an advantage.
"The worse the weather, the happier we are, because the quicker everyone else will break," van der Meer said with a laugh. "Everyone else is hoping that it will be warmer."
Pearson said while they are in the Fulda Challenge to win, they also hope to make friends with their European rivals.
"Hopefully they'll be able to come back and we can show them more of the Yukon, you know, the little things that they don't get to see here," he said.