Volunteer Rodger Hamilton shovels snow off the pathways at Scout Island Friday, Jan. 7. A rotation schedule of volunteers complete the task of snow removal throughout the winter, and this week just happened to be Hamilton’s turn. “I was so lucky I drew this week,” he said, laughing. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Volunteer Rodger Hamilton shovels snow off the pathways at Scout Island Friday, Jan. 7. A rotation schedule of volunteers complete the task of snow removal throughout the winter, and this week just happened to be Hamilton’s turn. “I was so lucky I drew this week,” he said, laughing. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Weather hot topic of conversation in Williams Lake after significant snowfall event

Environment Canada meteorologist discusses the upside and downside of weather prediction

Residents in the Cariboo Chilcotin are continuing to dig themselves out from the latest snowstorm to hit the area this winter.

On Thursday, Jan. 6, 25.6 cm of snow fell over the Williams Lake area while temperatures remained below average. It was -27C overnight and -23C for a daytime high Thursday. The amount is in addition to the 82.9 cm that fell in December.

There were multiple minor collisions around the city Thursday as motorists attempted to navigate the streets, and travel was not recommended for all of Highway 20 and Highway 97 in the Williams Lake area due to poor visibility.

“Certainly this was a very significant snow event,” confirmed Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist.

Lundquist describes the recent winter weather in the Cariboo as “a good return to normal.”

“Snow and cold kills bugs and feeds forests,” he said, noting a large snow event like the one Thursday happens when cold Arctic air is being pushed out of the region.

Residents can expect one more snow event Saturday evening in the amount of five to 10 cm before a period of above average temperatures is set to begin Sunday.

“It will be a good break for everyone.”

While Thursday’s amount is the most snow to fall in one day so far this year, and is a record amount for any Jan. 6 since 1961, it is not the most snow ever to fall in one day in Williams Lake.

Imagine twice as much snow as we received Thursday and you will take yourself back to Nov. 15-16, in 2013, when the Williams Lake Airport recorded 51 cm of snow.

Lundquist, who has been a meteorologist since 1993, said the business of forecasting weather patterns has never been easier, however, due to climate extremes it has also never been more demanding.

“In my career, it’s never been more stressful.”

Lundquist describes 2021 as the worst year in his career and “the most heartbreaking” due to the heat dome in the summer which was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of B.C. residents.

Lundquist said he feels responsible to warn residents and wants to ‘get the message out’ as much as possible when changing weather can be a threat to safety.

With the warming trend on the way for the Cariboo, Lundquist cautions residents of slippery roads and sidewalks and to adjust accordingly.

“I want people to stay safe. We lose a lot of people on the roads.”

Lundquist urges motorists to watch the forecast and check DriveBC before planning any trips.

Read More: Travel advisory in effect for all of Highway 20, Highway 97 near Williams Lake


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