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Forecast of snow and rain means a messy weekend for Valley residents

Walk warily, help clear sidewalks, drive safely, and watch for snow build-up on roofs and sheds
It’s obviously a great day out for this little fellow as he jumps for joy at being outdoors in the snow with Pawsactive Adventures, a company that takes homebound dogs out for some ‘wild’ time. (Rachel Crockart photo)

With Arctic air combining with a snowfall warning, the forecast was a mixed bag for Thursday through the weekend.

Thursday morning, Environment Canada said that more snow was expected later that day as another area of low pressure approached B.C.’s south coast. However with temperatures of -4 C still prevalent in Duncan and other areas at mid-morning, the trend towards milder conditions was muted, and temperatures were expected to remain near the freezing mark as night approached.

Travel warnings were issued to motorists for the rush hour as snow was expected Thursday afternoon and early evening, possibly as much as five to 10 centimetres by Friday morning, depending on location.

However, the possibility of a transition to rain at some point made predicting exactly what would happen at any hour tricky for meteorologists, as Armel Castellan pointed out Tuesday.

The snowfall alert covered parts of eastern Vancouver Island but did not extend as far west as the Cowichan Lake district, continuing the recent trend that has seen Ladysmith, Chemainus, and Duncan receive more snow than Lake Cowichan.

Public schools, which had been closed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, were open again on Thursday, as crews had been able to clear parking lots and accesses midweek following the earlier heaviest dumps of snow.

Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan campus also re-opened for classes on Thursday.

Island Health has also issued tips for handling ice and snow, urging everyone, particularly seniors, to be extremely cautious when they venture outdoors in snowy and icy conditions, as they are especially at risk of suffering serious injuries from slips and falls.

Don’t drive if you don’t have to, in order to reduce vehicle crashes, Island Health advised.

“Only use hospital emergency departments for urgent and acute medical issues. Emergency departments are busier than usual with slip and fall incidents, fractures and motor vehicle crash victims,” they say.

Here are some of their strategies to reduce the risk of falling:

• Wear proper fitting, supportive footwear appropriate to the weather

• Keep your centre of gravity over your feet and hands out of your pockets to maintain balance

• Walk slowly, penguin-walk style and pay attention to where you are going

• Use handrails when available, especially on steps

• Avoid stepping on ice or snow if possible or, if you must, walk where it’s crunchy if you can

• Use a backpack instead of carrying a purse; this will improve your balance

• Use walking aids (walkers or canes) as ordered for you by a health professional

• Sprinkle sand or salt around your home and on sidewalks to improve traction

When removing snow, be aware of the physical strain of shovelling snow, Island Health said. It’s important to pace yourself, particularly when lifting heavy, wet snow.

And finally, be a good neighbour. Helping seniors and others who may have challenges clearing their walks or driveways keeps us all safe, Island Health says.

Valley residents have also been keeping up with their neighbours on social media, pointing out danger areas and volunteering to help with snow clearing. They’ve been reminding everyone to clear heavy snow off sheds and garages so it doesn’t become an additional problem.