BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Battling snowmageddon

In the Twitter era, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the hashtag #snowmageddon

In the Twitter era, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the hashtag #snowmageddon.

And after the fifth or sixth shovelling of the driveway, it certainly appeared that Odin and the other Norse gods were bringing their full wrath to bear on the mortals of the North Okanagan.

Looking out over the snow drifts that had engulfed the yard, it wasn’t impossible to imagine Han Solo and Luke Skywalker riding Tauntauns across the frozen planet of Hoth. The vast, open expanse of the neighbour’s driveway became a scene out of the prairies. All that was missing was Laura Ingalls clutching her school books.

Environment Canada reports that about 40 centimetres fell in Vernon between Saturday and Monday. To beat that two-day total, you have to go all the way back to Feb. 20 and 21, 1937 when 50 centimetres of snow dropped on the ground.

On Monday night, I slipped on my boots and waded into an undisturbed part of the yard. The snow was up to my knees and the tape measure indicated there was two feet of the white stuff.

It literally became an endurance test to keep the driveway clear, and top marks go out to my family and neighbours who pitched in. If any good came out of the storm, it helped pull the community together — whether it was shovelling for an elderly couple or pushing a vehicle bogged down in the snow.

I also have a renewed appreciation for the individuals who are called to duty when our roads are covered in snow and ice. Throughout the North Okanagan, trucks, graders and bobcats attacked the never-ending flakes.

How many of us cleaned out our driveways only to realize that it had virtually filled up again? Now imagine that scenario over and over again as you try to keep conditions safe for motorists on 25th Avenue, Highway 97A or the Monashee Pass.

Unfortunately, that relentless focus on primary routes meant that side roads were abandoned in many cases. Naturally that led to frustration among some residents.

It’s likely that municipalities and contractors will review the storm and whether changes in strategy are required. But it’s important to point out that the region hasn’t experienced weather like this since Joseph Stalin launched his purge trials and the Marx Brothers released A Day At The Races.

To demonstrate how extreme the situation was, schools were shut down for two days — possibly the first time since 1968. That means current students are the first ones in a couple of generations to experience a snow day, and the stories of how they spent that day will border on legendary as they grow into parents and grandparents.

It’s a scene most media also won’t likely forget any time soon as everything from council meetings and preschools to transit and movie presentations were scrapped. How many ways are there to say cancelled before you run out of words?

Of course we need to keep things in perspective.

We aren’t in the middle of a civil war, people aren’t being kidnapped and disease isn’t threatening the lives of thousands. It was a snow storm and in a few days, roads will be cleared and shovels will be put away until the next time.

But there’s no question that snowmageddon will have us talking for some time to come.

 

Vernon Morning Star

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