Changing weather presents new challenges on Lower Mainland roads
SURREY -- The South Coast felt some much needed relief from wintry weather on Sunday, as warmer temperatures and rain began to thaw a week’s worth of snow and ice across the Lower Mainland.
But, the change in weather also presented new challenges on the roads.
Rain turned snow banks into blocks of ice in Surrey, narrowing roadways and covering storm drains.
With concerns about localized flooding mounting, some residents took matters into their own hands.
In the Fleetwood neighbourhood, a handmade sign could be seen sticking out of a snowbank near Fraser Highway and 168 Street.
Its creator is a long-time Surrey homeowner who was acting on previous bad experiences.
“If I don’t put a sign out there when the road crews come along, they leave a big ice block there so I can’t get the drain clear,” explained Janette Ellis with a laugh. “I’m 72 years old. I don’t have the strength to break up chunks of ice."
Ellis says she’s been hampered by snow-related flooding for years.
“I think a lot of people don’t know they’re there,” said Ellis, gesturing to the storm drain in front of her house. “Look around your place and don’t expect someone to do it for you. If you see it needs doing, do it."
That message is being echoed by the City of Burnaby, which is asking residents to dig channels to their own drains during the thaw.
Environment Canada meteorologist Dave Wray said temperatures are not expected to rise rapidly or by large amounts, which is ideal for avoiding flooding related to melting snow.
“I wouldn’t anticipate the snow to melt at a rapid pace," Wray said. "Which is perfect. It’s exactly what you want and that should hopefully keep things at bay.”
The slow melt will likely allow some built-up ice to linger, however.
In the Guildford neighbourhood, snowbanks created by plows covered many parking spaces, bike lanes, and sidewalks. Elderly residents could be seen struggling to navigate with walkers and wheelchairs in the slippery conditions.
Many drivers said they are relieved the major routes are now clear, after some scary situations on the road.
“I’ve seen some crazy things. People going sideways, getting stuck,” said Martin Streifel, a Surrey resident.
He said he’s been avoiding driving all together until the weather improves.
Many who live in the Lower Mainland say they’re thankful for the return of the rain.
“Looking at the rest of the country and North America, I think this is fantastic weather. It’s really good and the rain will take care of this white stuff really soon,” said Colin Holden, another Surrey resident.
As the layers of snow from the last week continue to melt, officials will keep a close eye on rivers and streams for flooding.
“Snowmelt has been slow, and with moderate levels of rainfall, river levels are well below levels of concern,” said the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development in a statement.
Weather alerts remain in effect for parts of the North Coast and a freezing rain warning was put in place in Whistler Sunday afternoon.