Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let it snow

Well, we experienced our first snow fall yesterday morning! It fell over the city in large, fluffy flakes, but it wasn't sticking - at least not downtown. It maybe fell for about an hour before it turned into rain - the typical Vancouver snow experience.

Whenever it snows in Vancouver, the city gets caught in a panic. Unlike yesterday, usually the snow does stick for at least a day or two before the rains wash it away. The snow is almost always wet and slushy making it very treacherous. Because it maybe snows two or three times a winter and then promptly melts, nobody bothers preparing for snow. Almost nobody installs snow tires on their cars. Snowblowers? Snowploughs? What are those? Transplanted Ontarians, Albertans, and pretty much any other Canadian from anywhere but the BC coast love to laugh at us whenever it snows.

The typical remark?

"Vancouverites just don't know how to drive in the snow!"

It's true.

Without much of a municipal budget for snow removal, we just don't have the infrastructure to adequately deal with snow. Unlike most Canadian cities, Vancouver has little snow removal equipment. Main roads will eventually be cleared, but it's never done immediately. The side streets are almost never cleared. Combine that with the lack of snow tires, the lack of people's experience driving in snow, the slush, and the hilly terrain, then you begin to understand Vancouver in the snow. And you can understand why public transit and taxis are in such high demand on snow days, or why many people just stay home.

When there are really heavy snow falls, schools and universities will close. I remember a few times when I was at UBC, classes were cancelled due to the snow. Yesterday at SFU, exams were cancelled because people were having difficulty driving up Burnaby Mountain, where SFU is located.

This morning when I woke up, the clouds lifted high enough to see the fresh snow on the mountains.

I know that on Cypress, Seymour, and Grouse, they're thanking the snow gods. I'm sure they're also celebrating up in Whistler too as they've had such little snowfall since the start of the season. With this unusual cold spell (tomorrow's high -5 Celsius?!), I'm sure there will be more where that came from.


Andy Shen said...

hahaha ... it was snowing where I live (Westwood Plateau) but it was not snowing at my friend's place (e.g. Vancouver, Richmond).

when i informed everyone about the exam cancellations, they all didn't believe me as they did not have snow.

Robyn said...

Hey Andy,

Isn't the microclimate great? I grew up in Richmond, so I know exactly what you're talking about. But you're lucky, it must be nice to have an extra day to study for exams!

Andy Shen said...

hahaha ... not really. at this time, people already have plans for after exams (after as in the day after). having a snow day on the last 2 days of exams isn't really that great. it throws people off their schedule. also at this time, people just want to get over with their exams

Robyn said...

That's true!