By David F. Rooney
The world is not ending with a whimper or a bang but in snow. Yes. It’s Snowmageddon out there… or at least it feels that way.
Scratch a local and most will express a longing for spring or mutter darkly about “all the @#$%’ing snow.”
Maybe we’re spoiled. Old-timers will say “it used to like this all the time.” Maybe, but for the last 10 or 11 years, come March, the banks of white stuff have usually started to melt at least a little. Not so this year.
Darren Komonski, operations manager for the City’ Department of Engineering and Public Works, told Council on Tuesday that the City had received 490 cm of snow by that morning — 380 cm of it since January 1. Of course, the community has already received about another 10 cm of snow and is expected to receive at least another 10 by Thursday. Snow-pocalypse? Sounds like it, eh, especially when you consider that the City’s snow-removal budget has been completely drained so all of the private contractors it used this winter are no longer employed. The City must now get by with just a grader, its snow blower and a couple of its own trucks.
Walk around town — Heck, look out your window! — and it’s easy to see there’s a lot of snow on the ground here in town. That 490 – 500 cm has compressed down to 175 cm in Columbia Park and 150 cm in Big Eddy and at the airport and that’s an all-time record for March, says Lisa Longinotto, a volunteer forecaster for Environment Canada.
“The record for March is 141 cm and that was set back in 1956,” she said. “We’re already over that.”
Longinotto measures the snow every day at three official Environment Canada snow measurement sites in town. One is in her backyard, the others are in Big Eddy and at the airport, so if anyone knows how much snow is on the ground she should.
Of course, skiers and boarders have a slightly different take on it.
One young woman at Sangha Bean, on hearing a regular customer complain about the snow and blame it on worshippers of the pagan snow god Ullar, said: “That would be me!”
Ashley Tait, director of marketing at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, said the resort has had “lots of happy, happy people” here this week.
“I just wanted to say everything about the place was amazing,” she said one visitor from Toronto told her. “The rooms at Nelson Lodge were incredible, the Rockford food was sooo good, but the snow and the mountain were just awesome! I had never ridden powder before and to do it at North American’s best resort was a real highlight. It was by far my best ever day snowboarding and one of the best day’s of my life! So thank you all for that!”
While Tait would not release any real numbers (the resort never does) she did say “skier visit numbers this week have been quite good, a lot of our guests that are coming are destination visitors from Eastern Canada/US as well as a lot of European guests.”
That’s all fine and good, but drive around town and you can’t help but notice how much snow is sitting on top of people’s houses.
Municipal Building Inspector Tim Luini said there have been three roof collapses this year. All of the collapses have involved flat, or nearly flat, carports.
The biggest misconception is that people think they’re safe is if they build a roof to carry 121 lbs of snow per square foot,” he said. “They think it will carry that all of the time. It won’t.”
As a simple rule for estimating loads from snow depths the specific gravity can be considered to be about 0.2 to 0.3. In other words, each inch of snow represents a load of about 1 to 1½ pounds per square foot. Measure the amount of snow on your roof (and if there’s ice be aware that one inch of ice weighs 5 pounds per square foot) and it’s easy to figure out.
Luini uses an eight inch-wide pipe and he drives down into the snow on a roof to determine the real snow load. However, he doesn’t recommend people start going onto their roofs. The extra weight of an adult male on a roof could be the catalyst for a collapse.
All in all, the snow-pocalypse is here and Environment Canada is saying it won’t be gone for a while.
What can we do? Pray — just not to Ullar, the snowlovers’ god of snow.