British Columbia

Winter wallop dumps over 60 cm of snow in B.C.'s southern Interior

Some parts of the B.C. southern Interior are breaking snowfall records, including Sparwood which had already received 60 cm of snow Tuesday, with snow continuing to fall.

Sparwood, Castlegar, Cranbrook break official Environment Canada daily snowfall record

Much of the Kootenay region, including this property near Nelson, is digging out after days of record-breaking snowfall. (Bob Keating)

Communities in the B.C. southern Interior are coping with a record-breaking February snowfall resulting in highway mayhem, school closures and extreme avalanche warnings.

The small town of Sparwood in the Elk Valley has already received 60 centimetres of fresh snow Monday, demolishing the previous record of 18.3. Cranbrook and Castlegar also both broke snowfall records two days in a row.

"A lot of areas are getting hit pretty hard," said Jennifer Hay, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

"It's going to go on for the next few days. We'll definitely have a few breaks in there, but we won't see a change in the pattern until probably Friday."

'Never seen anything like it'

The heavy snowfall has resulted in numerous highway warnings and closures. 

The Kootenay Pass remains closed due to heavy snowfall — it isn't expected to reopen until 8 p.m. PT. Snow also prompted closures or travel advisories for Highways 1, 31, 95A, 97 and 99. 

Bad weather also shut down Highway 3 in both directions in several parts of the Kootenays, including Kootenay Pass. (Bob Keating/CBC)

Anthony Arnold in Riondel on the east shore of Kootenay Lake describes it as "tons and tons and tons" of snow.

"I moved here in 1969 ... I've never seen anything like it," he said.

"I can't see out the window. All I see is snow. I just measured on the carport roof and it's 21 inches."

No mail, no school, multiple avalanche warnings

Avalanche Canada has issued an extreme danger rating — the highest possible level — for the South Rockies. The danger rating for the Kootenays and Columbias remains at considerable and high.

Canada Post has also suspended mail service to the Kootenay Pass, saying it is not safe to send people out to deliver mail.

The heavy snow also resulted in multiple school closures in the Kootenay region, including in Nelson, Rossland, Cranbrook and Castlegar. 

Environment Canada said most communities should expect more snow to fall before the system passes.

"Be prepared — maybe 10 centimetres per day in some regions. It's going to vary wildly, some areas will get just a trace and some areas will be seeing 20 centimetres or more," said Hay.

With files from Daybreak South.