Snow will stick around as temperature drops

No more snow expected, but cold will keep white stuff around for rest of week; emergency shelters opened

Abbotsford's main arteries are mostly clear after the weekend's snow. No serious crashes were reported

Abbotsford’s burgeoning population of snowmen won’t be disappearing anytime soon.

Snowfall amounts varied across Abbotsford, but much of the city got between 12 and 15 centimetres of the white stuff between Friday and Sunday.

Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan said the snow is done, but the winter conditions aren’t, with temperatures forecast to drop over the coming days.

The mercury is expected to drop to below minus 10 midweek more than 10 degrees below normal.

On Tuesday, Environment Canada was warning of windchill values near minus 20 in the eastern Fraser Valley.

The weather is not expected to warm until this weekend at the earliest.

“You’ve got a solid week of cold,” Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan said Monday. When the cold does let up, snow could return; there is a chance of more snow in the forecast for Sunday and Monday.

City of Abbotsford crews worked around the clock to clear roads. After clearing main routes, staff were able to turn their attention to residential streets overnight Sunday. That work has had to pause, at times, in order to keep key arteries free of ice.

The city had 10 trucks, along with three one-ton trucks and a grader, plowing roads following the storm. By Tuesday, most residential roads were in “fair to good condition,” according to the city, although work continued on some that still had compact snow and ice.

Wind on Sumas Prairie created some issues with blowing and drifting snow, with some side roads seeing drifts as high as four feet tall. No serious vehicle incidents have been reported since the snow began to fall.

The City of Abbotsford received a supply of sand Monday and more salt Tuesday, but as it and other cities attempted to clear hundreds of kilometres of roads around the Fraser Valley, private contractors found themselves in a desperate search for salt.

Chris Daaistra, who runs The Grounds Guys, a local landscaping company, has found it a challenge to obtain salt for the snow- and ice-removal work his crews do for local strata and commercial properties.

Daaistra said he had stocked up before the weekend, but still found it hard to get new loads.

“I spent my whole morning yesterday (Monday) trying to locate salt,” he said. One operator in Richmond has been able to supply contractors, but Daaistra has heard there have been massive waits to load the salt.

Daaistra has heard salt operations are prioritizing municipalities.

“The main supplier is so busy they’re not accepting phone calls right now.”

While expectations are high, Daaistra urged patience.

“People want to see black asphalt,” he said. “We’ve been working long, long days.”

Many local retail stores were also sold out of salt for residential use by late last week.

Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said police have been called to a handful of accidents, with likely more minor incidents that did not result in police being called. But there have been no serious injuries.

Helping the situation over the weekend was the fact that many people didn’t even try to leave home.

“We saw fewer people on the roads after the Friday commute was over,” MacDonald said.

On the positive side, MacDonald noted that crime rates tend to dip with the mercury, as people including those who would otherwise be breaking the law take refuge from the cold.