Update: Snowfall totals hit the 50-centimetre mark over three days in the valley

Valley public schools and Vancouver Island University Cowichan Campus has been closed today due to the weather. - Andrew Leong
Valley public schools and Vancouver Island University Cowichan Campus has been closed today due to the weather.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Snowfall totals approached or surpassed 50 centimetres in all areas of the valley over an incredible three days of weather.

Chris Carss, who keeps weather statistics at his Chemainus home on a volunteer basis for Environment Canada, reported a total of 48.8 cm of snow fell in Chemainus Saturday through Monday. There was still 33 cm on the ground, he added, when the snow ended Monday.

Meanwhile, Duncan's Kelvin Creek received 53 cm.

"From this, I conclude that total snowfalls were near 50 cm across most of the valley, with about 30 to 35 left on the ground,'' Carss indicated.

The long weekend ended Tuesday in the Cowichan Valley School District.

After snow cancelled classes Monday throughout School District 79, today is business as usual.

"As the side roads  are still somewhat challenging, buses may be delayed in picking up students," says a statement posted the district's website. "We ask that students and drivers take extra precautions today as roads have been narrowed by the snowfall accumulations and continue to be slippery."

All Vancouver Island University campuses, including Cowichan's are also open, after being closed Monday.

Other valley schools closed Monday included Quw'utsun Smuneeum, Queen of Angels, Duncan Christian School, Dwight School Canada, Evergreen Cobble Hill, Sunrise Waldorf School and St Joseph's Chemainus. We are still awaiting confirmation on their status for today.

A decision on classes for Tuesday was made at 6 a.m. based on information from School District crew members, who check the routes, the advice of Mainroad and "our best guess of what the weather will do in the hours ahead,'' noted School District 79 Superintendent Joe Rhodes.

"Once we make the call we have to live with it, as when parents head off to work we can't rewind as we cannot guarantee children will be safe.''

Rhodes added the information is posted on the district's website and media in the area is contacted during these situations.

"It is definitely not an exact science but we try and put student, staff and parent safety first and foremost,'' he pointed out.

Several power outages had also been reported Monday, including in several areas of Duncan and North Cowichan.

"Right now we still have about 640 customers still out in the Duncan area," reported BC Hydro spokesman Ted Olynyk Tuesday morning.

Monday's peak power outage in the valley saw about 7,000 customers without juice between 8 and 9 a.m.

"We were able to bring that down. It was a feeder, a main artery for us, and we were able to fix that fairly quickly so by around 1 p.m. the number dropped to only 300 and then it went up again when it started snowing more again at 5 p.m. to 2,000 customers..."

Hydro crews worked tirelessly to keep numbers down.

"Really a lot of it is branches getting heavy with the snow as it warms up, and branches from above falling down," Olynyk said of the contributor to many of the valley's outages.

For those people wondering about curbside collection, the Cowichan Valley Regional District reported on Tuesday collection would be back on track, although there might be a few streets that cannot be serviced due to slippery conditions.

"Unfortunately, we will not be servicing the Mill Bay–Malahat route that was cancelled yesterday," the CVRD reported Tuesday on its Facebook site.

Not all is doom and gloom for the rest of the week.

The forecast isn't calling for more snow and there's a 40% chance of showers on Thursday.

— with a file from Don Bodger

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