Winter ice storm cripples Hope

A peak of 14,000 residents were without power after this week's snow and ice storm

This week’s ice storm in Hope brought down hundreds of tree branches throughout the area and knocked out power to thousands of residents for days.

Hope is finally thawing out after being hit with a severe ice storm earlier this week.

Environment Canada meteorologist Greg Pearce said the community hasn’t experienced a storm like this in decades. About 5-10 cm of snow fell on the ground over the weekend prior to 15-20 mm of ice in some areas around Hope.

“You had cold arctic air and then you had this moist, mild air coming up from the southwest and it overran the arctic air and the rain froze as it fell,” said Pearce. “Hope was right on that transition boundary between rain on the coast and snow in the Interior. And it stayed pretty stationary for quite a number of hours and that’s why you got the heavy dose of freezing rain.”

The ice storm brought down hundreds of tree branches in the Hope area, knocked out power to thousands of customers, and closed schools for days. The Fraser Valley Regional District opened up an emergency warming centre on Tuesday night at the rec centre to help residents affected by the power outages, offering access to washrooms and showers, as well overnight cots. Rock slides on Monday also forced the temporary closure of Flood-Hope Road, between Silver Creek and downtown Hope, as well Highway 1 east of Bridal Falls.

Hope was the hardest hit community in the Lower Mainland from the winter storm. BC Hydro spokesperson Simi Heer said outages of more than 24 hours are unique and 29 crews in total were brought in, each comprised of up to three people. Crews targeted areas that would bring the largest number of customers back online first before moving to smaller neighborhood outages. Heer said they were also delayed by icy road conditions and highway closures.

As of press deadline on Wednesday, there were still about 150 customers without power in the Hope area. However, that’s significantly down from a peak of about 14,000 on Monday.

“Ice is one of the most challenging weather issues for us to deal with, just because we have freezing lines and freezing conductors. We can also have branches come down far after the storm has passed. It tends to be an ongoing issue,” said Heer. “Once we got a problem cleared up, we saw additional problems pop up and they were often affecting the same lines and circuits.”

The District of Hope has set up collection bins for tree branches at the rec centre near the small parking lot next to the washrooms. Any debris that can’t fit into the yard waste containers can be dropped off at no charge. For more information, contact district hall at 604-869-5671 or visit www.hope.ca