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Snowfall takes Valley by surprise

Julie Bertrand, Alberni Valley Times, January 09, 2013

Dangerous winter driving conditions cause three motor vehicle accidents and Highway 4 closure

Snow came back to the Alberni Valley yesterday afternoon with a vengeance.

Snowflakes started falling during lunch hour, before intensifying in size and fall speed in the afternoon. Roads soon became covered with snow, creating slippery driving conditions.

Port Alberni RCMP spokeswoman Cpl. Jen Allan said there were three motor vehicle accidents in the Valley in a 40-minute period yesterday afternoon, starting at 1: 30 p.m.

The first one occurred in the 2600 block on the Alberni Highway. A semi-truck jack-knifed in front of the Chrysler dealership.

The second accident happened in the 6600 block of Beaver Creek Road, when a vehicle left the road and travelled into the ditch. The vehicle was damaged but, fortunately, there were no injuries.

The third accident happened just east of Coombs Country Candy on the Alberni Highway. Another trailer jack-knifed on the road.

"I believe it was that particular accident that made the B.C. government decide to close the Hump," Allan said.

As a result, the section of Highway 4 between Cathedral Grove and Port Alberni was closed for more than an hour, before reopening around 3: 30 p.m.

Crews also seized the opportunity to plow and salt the highway before it re-opened.

Allan reminds Valley residents to abide by the two safety rules when driving in winter conditions. Drivers should make sure their vehicle is well-equipped, with proper snow tires, blankets and food. They should also reduce their speed and leave plenty of distance between their vehicle and the next one.

She added that drivers should also remove as much snow as possible from their cars before going on the road

Local weather enthusiast Chris Alemany said yesterday's weather was a classic Port Alberni dumping of wet and slushy snow.

"It was not expected that the cold air would hold for as long as it did," he said. "But it did... so we got a big dump and now we should get a whole bunch of rain and maybe some wind, too."

Weather forecasts predict some more flurries as the storm clears out and the cold moves in.

Alemany has good news for sun-starved people. The yellow orb should make an appearance tomorrow and Friday. However, snow might come back this weekend.

Snow in the Alberni Valley is normal at this time of the year. Alemany said January is the Valley's coldest month and the month with the most snow on average.

© Alberni Valley Times 2013