If driving in this slippery, snowy weather makes you feel like your heart has taken nest in your throat, you’re not alone.
Local motorists not used to driving in winter conditions which the rest of Canada considers to be simply a day in the life are definitely being put to the test this week, not only in Surrey but throughout the Lower Mainland.
“This morning was crazy. It was all hands on deck for several hours this morning,” Surrey Fire Battalion Chief Brian Carmichael said Monday afternoon, approaching the Now-Leader’s press deadline.
There were 26 traffic crashes in Surrey between 5 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Monday alone, he said, and five snow- or ice-related falls.
“Those are ones that our crews responded to,” Carmichael said. “That’s when the dispatch centre sent one of our vehicles out for a person who has fallen and they either banged their head or are hurt and they’ve called 911 for a medical emergency, and it was coded as a fall. So, snow- or ice-related.”
Several people were taken to hospital.
By 10 a.m. Monday, the Surrey RCMP had already dealt with five traffic crashes but fortunately “nothing too serious,” Corporal Elenore Sturko told the Now-Leader.
“We have also received a few more than usual calls this morning from people who are reporting things like tailgating, fast driving and that sort of thing, so people are concerned about what’s happening on the road,” she said.
“It’s really icy and slippery out there. Watch out for pedestrians, too.”
Some people, she said, are walking on streets to avoid icy sidewalks.
“It’s not safe.”
As for crashes, you can be certain the number will keep climbing. Surrey does, after all, have 4,700 kilometres of roadway, counting all its lanes, and that this arctic ridge of high pressure was expected to remain with us for days. According to The Weather Network, as of late Monday afternoon, subzero temperatures and snow flurries were forecast, with rain taking over Saturday.
Meantime, the cold snap has wreaked havoc in parts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. On Monday morning a school bus carrying more than 30 children crashed on the Golden Ears Bridge but no students were injured. The bus rear-ended a car midspan, in a northbound lane.
The car’s driver was taken to hospital to be treated for soft-tissue injuries, police said.
On Sunday night, a roughly 30-car pileup resulted in the closure of Highway 1 between Hope and Chilliwack. No life-threatening injuries were reported. A semi trailer also jack-knifed at the 264th Street overpass, closing Highway 1 for a while in that area.
And on Monday commuters and those waiting for a ferry were faced with significant delays on Highway 17 near Tsawwassen following a three-vehicle head-on collision near Tsatsu Shores that left one person seriously injured.
While schools were closed in some parts, on account of the weather, public schools remained open in Surrey and Delta.
If you’re wondering when your road will be plowed, City of Surrey’s website notes that the city has 73 pieces of equipment on the job, hundreds of personnel and “an industry-leading salt supply of 17,000 metric tons.” Included in this fleet are 23 dump trucks, 28 one-ton trucks, four graders, 16 brine units and two sidewalk plows.
The city’s website indicates “high volume arterials, steeply graded roads, bus routes and access to emergency services, like hospitals,” is top priority.
Second priority includes “all secondary roads within residential areas, such as routes that provide access to schools and to long-term care facilities,” and “remaining roads” are third priority.
– With files from Black Press Media