Snowfall alerts issued for mountain passes in B.C.’s Southern Interior

a train covered in snow: Weather conditions at the Pennask Summit on the Okanagan Connector on Tuesday morning.

© DriveBC
Weather conditions at the Pennask Summit on the Okanagan Connector on Tuesday morning.

Snowfall warnings have been issued for several mountain passes in B.C.’s Southern Interior.

Sent out by Environment Canada on Tuesday morning at 10:42 a.m., the warnings say drivers should be on the lookout for adverse weather conditions and take safety precautions.

The national weather agency says a strong frontal system is moving across the province, and that freezing levels have fallen in advance of the system.

Read more: Snow and wind warnings in place for much of B.C. Tuesday

It added that 10 to 15 centimetres of snow is expected Tuesday, with an additional 10 to 15 centimetres possible in the evening and overnight.

The national weather agency also issued special weather statements, including for:

Highway 3 (Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass)

Highway 97C (Okanagan Connector, Pennask Summit)

Highway 1 (Eagle Pass to Rogers Pass)

Yoho Park / Kootenay Park.

For the Coquihalla, Environment Canada says snow has changed to rain but is expected to switch back to flurries near the summit overnight.

For the Pennask Summit and Kootenay Pass, snow is predicted to taper off Tuesday afternoon, with 15 centimetres expected.

Read more: Cool B.C. temperatures spark annual crush of swapping to winter tires


Town of Hope: 41 metres (134 feet)

City of Kelowna: 344 metres (1,128 feet)

City of Revelstoke: 480 metres (1,574 feet)

Town of Merritt: 605 metres (1,984 feet)

Eagle Pass, Highway 1: 550 metres (1,804 feet)

Coquihalla Highway Summit: 1,210 metres (3,969 feet)

Rogers Pass, Highway 1: 1,330 metres (4,363 feet)

Paulson Summit, Highway 3: 1,446 metres (4,744 feet)

Pennask Summit, Okanagan Connector: 1,717 metres (5,633 feet)

Kootenay Pass, Highway 3: 1,781 metres (5,843 feet)

For the latest road conditions, visit DriveBC.

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Third trial ordered for New Zealand man found guilty of murdering Alberta wife in B.C.’s Interior

A third trial will be held for a former New Zealand man found guilty of the first-degree murder of his Canadian wife while the pair vacationed in B.C.’s Southern Interior 10 years ago.

British Columbia’s highest court says a new trial should be held for Peter Beckett because the trial judge was wrong to admit certain evidence and the Crown’s submissions to the jury were improper.

Read more:
Jail house snitch testifies in Kelowna trial of man accused of murdering his wife

Beckett, now in his mid-60s, was charged with the murder of his wife, Laura Letts of Alberta, when she drowned as the couple boated on Upper Arrow Lake near Revelstoke in August 2010.

The pair was on vacation from their home near Westlock, located about 85 kilometres north of Edmonton.

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Beckett’s first trial ended with a hung jury and his second trial concluded in 2017 with the guilty verdict.

Click to play video 'Closing arguments wrap up in Kelowna for man accused of drowning his wife'

Closing arguments wrap up in Kelowna for man accused of drowning his wife

Closing arguments wrap up in Kelowna for man accused of drowning his wife

But the B.C Court of Appeal says the finding was not completely unreasonable — so rather than order an acquittal, it has sent the matter for a third trial, with a date still to be determined.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Bear conflict calls surge in B.C.’s northern Interior this year

B.C.’s northern Interior has seen a huge spike in bear conflict calls over the past six months, according to conservation officers, even after years of educating the public not to leave garbage in open areas as attractants for wild animals.

Many Prince Rupert residents were shocked when an adult male black bear was killed downtown by an RCMP officer on Sept. 10. Last Tuesday in Prince George, a female bear was put down by a conservation officer.

The number of bear-related complaints since April is unusual, said B.C. North Coast conservation officer Sgt. Tracy Walbauer, who has worked in his position for two decades.

“We typically have between 300 and 600 bear complaints a year, and we’re already at 900 and we’re just half way through the fiscal [year],” he said. “We typically don’t get busy until the fall.”

Walbauer said bear sighting calls come mostly from the growing Kitamaat and Terrace villages and rarely from Prince Rupert, but his team has received 14 reports this year from the city.

But it’s a far cry from the increase in bear sightings in Prince George, where conservation officer Sgt. Steve Ackles says there have been 1,270 reports of black bears.

A black bear wanders around by a park on McKay Street in Prince Rupert, B.C. (Jamie Lavallee-Pritchard)

Ackles has worked in his position for 15 years. He said Prince George destroys about 40 bears per year, but it has already put down 30 over the past six months.

“It’s disheartening,” he said. “Apparently, the public doesn’t want to save bears or keep themselves safe.”

Ackles said Prince George residents are responsible for the high number of bear sightings and deaths.

“You drive down any street in Prince George and you’ll see garbage cans stored in front of their garage doors,” he said.

The two cubs left behind by the female bear destroyed in Prince George were transferred to Smithers’ Northern Light Wildlife Society co-founded by Angelika Langen. 

She said it’s painful to watch the baby bears losing their mother, but people should be accountable for managing their garbage well, instead of blaming officers who kill the animals.

“Not pointing out where the problem really lies is not helping,” said Langen to Carolina De Ryk, host of CBC’s Daybreak North. “If you just gloss it over and not really control where the problem is, it’s never going to change.” 

Tap the link below to listen to Angelika Langen’s interview on Daybreak North:

The Northern Lights Wildlife Society is frustrated by the amount of attractants being left out in northern communities, leading to the shooting of bears and orphaning of cubs. 6:37

Subscribe to Daybreak North on CBC Listen or your favourite podcast app, and connect with CBC Northern British Columbia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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Smoky skies smothering B.C.’s Southern Interior expected to last through Thursday – Okanagan

With U.S. wildfire smoke still choking Okanagan skies with grey haze, yet another special air quality statement has been issued for B.C.’s Southern Interior.

Last Tuesday, smoke from wildfires in the states of California, Oregon and Washington drifted northwards, prompting what would be the first of a consecutive string of smoky skies bulletins and air quality statements for the region.

In the Southern Interior on that day, B.C.’s air quality health index (AQHI) rose sharply from low in the morning to its maximum setting.

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Read more:
Wildfire smoke from western U.S. settles over Alberta

With the seemingly stationary smoke still blocking views, Environment Canada issued yet another special air quality statement for the Okanagan on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

As of 10:30 a.m., AQHI levels were at the maximum 10-plus rating, as were other communities in southern B.C., including Castlegar, Comox, Nanaimo, Duncan, Victoria, the Fraser Valley and parts of Greater Vancouver.

Kamloops and Squamish had moderate ratings at 6, with Whistler and Prince Geroge. Elsewhere, Quesnel, Fort St. John, Smithers and Terrace were at 1, or low.

Smoky skies remain over many parts of B.C. Tuesday

Smoky skies remain over many parts of B.C. Tuesday

“Very heavy smoke from the United States is continuing to have extensive impacts across the southern third of the province, with lesser impacts extending into the mid-regions of the province,” said Environment Canada.

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“Smoky conditions are expected to be variable but persist in areas currently being impacted until Thursday (Sept 17).”

Global News meteorologist Mark Madryga says there will be very little rain, if any, in most southern B.C. areas through Thursday.

He says along with weak wind, the smoke will remain, though it may thin during the afternoon with daytime heat.

Smoke from wildfires over Calgary

Smoke from wildfires over Calgary

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Elementary schools students return to class in B.C.’s Southern Interior

a little girl riding on the back of a bicycle: Elementary schools in the Southern Interior of B.C. have now opened.

© Global News
Elementary schools in the Southern Interior of B.C. have now opened.

Elementary schools in B.C.’s Southern Interior have opened and with the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, it’s an unprecedented first day back at school.

Global News talked to some elementary school parents to see how they are feeling about schools being reopened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m glad they’re reopened, I think it’s good to get back to a sense of normal,” said Angela Walsh, a Kelowna parent.

“My son has been really excited to get the opportunity to go to kindergarten. Of course, I’m a little bit nervous not knowing how things will play out with COVID-19″.

The same sentiment was echoed by another parent.

“He was actually quite happy to go this morning and was first in line to get into his classroom. I’m feeling pretty positive,” said Amy Martens, a Kelowna parent.

“Definitely a wait and see what happens.”

Read more: Back to school: If someone in a B.C. school gets sick, what happens next?

Martins, whose son is going into Grade 5, says school resuming is like a weight being lifted off her shoulders.

“A relief, for sure. Socially, it’s nice to have him back with his peers. Get him out of the house, and having a purpose to the day. It’s hard to keep a 10-year-old busy,” said Martens.

One parent said its been a long summer for him and his wife.

“I’m excited to have them going back,” said Matthew Cleary, a Kelowna parent.

“It’s been a long spring and summer taking care of the kids at home, and working from home. So, it’s nice to get them back into school and into a regular routine.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Anxiety high for B.C. teachers as they prepare to return to school on Tuesday

Central Okanagan Public Schools says it hears some of the concerns that some parents are having, but say staff are doing everything they can within the provincial guidelines to keep everyone safe.

“We are really excited to see about 99 per cent of our kids come back to in-class instruction. We’ve got lots of safety protocols in place to make sure that the risk is low for students to attend school,” said Kevin Kaardal, Central Okanagan Public Schools’ superintendent.

The situation will be an ongoing one, and parents say they will be monitoring how the transition of opening schools during a pandemic goes.

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Smoky skies bulletin for B.C.’s Southern Interior extended for a third consecutive day

a close up of a map: A screenshot of wildfire smoke projection for 12 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.

A screenshot of wildfire smoke projection for 12 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020.

A smoky skies advisory issued earlier in the week for most of B.C.’s Southern Interior has been extended for a third straight day.

On Thursday, provincial health officials said while wildfire smoke levels have dropped since Tuesday, many areas will continue to be impacted during the next 24 to 48 hours.

According to the province, forecast models show the potential for U.S. wildfire smoke intermittently blanketing parts of southern B.C.

Read more: Okanagan weather: Smoke from wildfires to thicken in valley

“With falling temperatures overnight, temperature inversions in mountain valleys can increase the likelihood of smoke being trapped near the ground,” said the province.

The bulletin added that areas near the Talbott Creek, Doctor Creek and Woodbury Creek wildfires in the Kootenays will continue to be impacted by smoke.

In the Okanagan, the air quality health index (AQHI) is listed at 2, or low, across the region.

On Wednesday, the North and Central Okanagan were listed at 2, while the South Okanagan was rated at 3.

On Tuesday, though, rankings for the Central and South shot up from 2 to 10-plus, with the North rated at 7.

A website dedicated to wildfire smoke projections, FireSmoke Canada, is forecasting ebbs and flows of wildfire smoke through the weekend.

For example, its projected forecast for Friday morning shows no smoke over the Okanagan, but come Friday night, a build-up of smoke will stretch from mid-Vancouver Island to the East Kootenays, reaching as far north as Kelowna.

For more about FireSmoke Canada, click here.

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Smoky skies bulletin extended for B.C.’s Southern Interior

a view of a large city landscape: A view of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake on Wednesday. The provincial government says smoke concentrations have improved in many areas since Tuesday, but that some smoky sections are still being observed.

© Global News
A view of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake on Wednesday. The provincial government says smoke concentrations have improved in many areas since Tuesday, but that some smoky sections are still being observed.

The smoky skies bulletin that was issued for B.C.’s Southern Interior on Tuesday has continued into Wednesday.

With smoke drifting northward from wildfires in the U.S., many sections of southern B.C. were blanketed by smoke on Tuesday afternoon.

But as of 1 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon, smoke levels throughout the valley have dissipated greatly, but not entirely.

Read more: Air quality advisory expanded for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley

“Smoke concentrations have improved in many areas over the last 24 hours,” said the provincial government. “However, some impacts are still being observed.

“The fires in Washington and Oregon continue to show extreme fire behaviour and there is continued potential for southern B.C. to receive long-range transport of wildfire smoke from the United States.”

Shortly after noon on Tuesday, the Central and South Okanagan regions were listed at 10-plus, the highest rating, on B.C.’s air quality health index (AQHI).

The North Okanagan, meanwhile, was given a 7 rating, or high.

As for AQHI levels on Wednesday, the North and Central were listed at 2, or low, while the South was a tad higher at 3, but still in the low category.

Environment Canada said during a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour by hour.

For more about the smoky skies bulletin, click here.

To view projected wildfire smoke forecasts from, click here.

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