The director of Kelowna International Airport (YLW) says the weather affecting air travel is like nothing he’s seen.
“In my 30-year career in the airport business this is really unprecedented, where storms throughout the country, as well as North America, hit simultaneously,” says Sam Samaddar.
“There are going to be a lot of people who won’t get to where they want to go for the holidays.”
More than two-dozen flights have been cancelled at YLW for today (Dec. 23).
“We had 26 cancellations,” says Samaddar.
Those flights were cancelled overnight by the airlines. Several flights are delayed today as well.
YLW is expecting approximately 7,000 passengers today, and the situation will change throughout the day as more cancellations are seen at airports in B.C. and across the country.
“Our teams continue to work around the clock to make sure that we’re ready to receive and depart passengers,” adds Samaddar.
Airport crews are keeping up with snow removal from runways, the bigger issue has been visibility.
“Where we drop below our minimums and we obviously can’t accept any aircraft,” says Samaddar.
Approximately 3 to 5 centimetres of snow fell across the Central Okanagan overnight, and more is in the forecast today. The snow is expected to ease starting tonight.
“It should taper off to more flurry activity as opposed to being widespread snow,” says Brian Proctor, Environment Canada meteorologist. “But I would expect five to 10 cm today.”
Proctor expects it will start to warm up starting tonight as well.
“We will probably see about -10 C by tomorrow morning,”
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day should see periods of snow, and temperatures will continue to rise into next week, Proctor added.
“Highs in the valley bottoms are probably going to be 3 C to 4 C, and maybe some wet snow.”
Proctor also has words of caution for travellers planning to drive the Connector and Coquihalla highways.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see the mountain passes see a little bit of freezing rain through the day today. So really not comfortable for anyone who is looking at travelling to the coast for the Christmas season.”
Motorists can check the DriveBC website for current road conditions.