Abbotsford continues to dig out after a year’s worth of snow fell on the city over just three days.
But the wild weather may not be over quite yet.
A total of 57 centimetres of snow was recorded at Abbotsford International Airport on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That total accumulation is more snow than the 55.2 centimetres of snow the city receives in an average year. Another 7.4 centimetres fell on Monday. The average snowfall for all of February is 8.6 centimetres.
While no snow was expected on Tuesday, Environment Canada was warning the public to brace for a potentially serious freezing rainstorm Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Environment Canada issued a Winter Storm Watch and meteorologist Matt MacDonald said Tuesday that “a prolonged freezing rain event” is possible. In addition to turning roads into sheets of ice, the freezing rain could accumulate on power lines, leading to outages across the region. Significant rain is expected to follow, leading to the possibility of flooding.
MacDonald urged residents to ensure they have an emergency preparedness kit ready. They should also be prepared not to travel on Thursday, he said, if the roads are particularly bad.
The snowfall smashed several records.
While the 17 centimetres that fell at Abbotsford International Airport on Feb. 3 didn’t break the previous 68-year-old records, the 20 centimetres that fell on both Saturday and Sunday were new marks. The previous Feb. 4 record was 7.6 centimetres and set in 1957. The old Feb. 5 record was 11.9 centimetres and set in 1949.
Another record was set Monday, when 7.4 centimetres eclipsed the previous mark of 5.1, again from 1949.
A week into the month, Abbotsford was just five centimetres from recording its snowiest February on record, with the current record the 69.1 centimetres recorded in 1949.
The stunning snowfall snarled roads and forced the cancellation of schools across the city on both Monday and Tuesday, along with classes at the University of the Fraser Valley and Columbia Bible College.
The previously scheduled council meeting and public hearing set for Monday evening were also postponed due to the weather, as was a school district student achievement report presentation set for Tuesday.
No serious collisions were reported, but the snow combined with strong winds late Sunday night to make for treacherous driving conditions, particularly on Sumas Prairie in the Vye Road area.
There, around 20 motorists and passengers had to be pulled from cars that had become stuck in snow drifts.
The weather also forced out guests at Tradex following the celebration of life for Dave Holmberg. With guests still milling about following the ceremony, snow fell from the roof and then, with nowhere to go on the ground, impacted the building’s exterior. A large bang could be heard throughout the building, and the impact bulged the wall and caused a pipe to burst.
The snow also caused the tennis bubble operated by Great West Fitness in east Abbotsford to lose its normal shape, although it had been restored by Monday afternoon.
At Abbotsford International Airport, just two flights were cancelled, neither at the behest of YXX, which was able to maintain its runways throughout the snow, according to general manager Parm Sidhu. A team of a dozen responders, plus two part-timers, were working full out throughout the snow to keep the terminal and main runway clear of snow and planes landing as planned.
Mayor Henry Braun said he had received around 20 complaints about slow snow removal. With more than 900 kilometres of roads in Abbotsford, Braun said the record-breaking snowfall was making it impossible for crews to get to “Priority 3” side streets, including his own road. But he hailed staff for their response and asked for patience.
“We can’t be everywhere at once,” he said. “What our staff has done needs to be commended.” City equipment has been on the roads continuously since the snow began to fall, he said.
Braun also believes residents have been better prepared, and been more patient, than in December, when another significant snowfall hit.
Watch abbynews.com for more on the weather as it develops.