Cowichan Valley residents woke up to a blanket of snow covering everything on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)

Cowichan Valley residents woke up to a blanket of snow covering everything on the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)

Cowichan grinds to a halt after major snowfall

As with much of those on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, Cowichan Valley residents woke up to a major dump of snow Tuesday morning, as predicted. More than 30 cm (one foot) fell overnight — the most snow the region has seen in years. The white fluffy stuff began to fall steadily around 5 p.m. Monday and continued throughout the night.

Transportation has been greatly impacted, as expected. Many travel advisories are in effect.

“All of our #Snowfighters are out battling this storm. Non-essential travel should be avoided,” wrote Emcon Services Inc. South Island division on twitter. Emcon is responsible for clearing the highways and roads within the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s electoral areas.

BC Ferries cancelled the first round trips between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay and Duke Point as well as between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay and Langdale.

On the smaller routes, including Crofton-Vesuvius, Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay and Thetis/Penelakut-Chemainus, BC Ferries cancelled the first two round trips.

BC Transit noted that “As winter weather continues throughout the province, BC Transit is reminding customers that they may experience some delays, detours or even cancellations when road conditions become challenging.”

As a result of the snow, service was cancelled outright in the Cowichan Valley on Tuesday.

Cowichan Tribes offices are now closed through Jan. 3 but the First Nation posted online that “more heavy snow is forecast this morning and this evening causing challenging conditions and reduced visibility for drivers. Please consider postponing non-essential travel, use caution, and stay safe.”

All scheduled and drop-in classes at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre were cancelled due to the weather.

Vancouver Island University campuses are closed in Nanaimo and Cowichan as well.

As a result of the extreme cold, BC Hydro reports a record-breaking demand for electricity.

Hydro said early statistics showed consumption between 5 and 6 p.m. reached over 10,800 megawatts – the highest ever recorded.

“With more sub-zero temperatures in the coming days, BC Hydro expects demand will remain high and there is the potential to see this latest record fall before the cold snap ends,” said Susie Rieder, BC Hydro spokesperson. “Despite the significant increase, we want to assure our customer that we will continue to be able to meet demand for electricity across the province this winter because of our large integrated hydroelectric system.”

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