A red barn on South Sumas Road sits under dark clouds and a fresh dump of snow after the first snowfall of 2012 on Saturday.

A red barn on South Sumas Road sits under dark clouds and a fresh dump of snow after the first snowfall of 2012 on Saturday.

Snow blankets Chilliwack

About 25 cm of snow had accumulated in Chilliwack by early Monday. There's another 15 to 20 cm on the way.

Big, fluffy snowflakes continued to fall Monday in Chilliwack after the first major snowstorm of 2012 hit the Fraser Valley over the weekend.

A total of 25 cm of the white stuff was on the ground by 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 16, said Roger Pannett, volunteer weather observer for Environment Canada.

Most of it came down Saturday with 24.4 cm recorded, and another 4.6 cm on Sunday.

With the temperature hovering at -5, more snow is expected, with another 15 cm predicted to fall.

Public schools in Chilliwack were open, while University of the Fraser Valley closed for the day.

City of Chilliwack staff has been fielding calls from angry residents about their streets not being plowed, mainly those who live on fourth priority roads, Mayor Sharon Gaetz told The Progress.

The city prioritizes its road system for snow removal since they don’t have the manpower or equipment to do all 550 km of Chilliwack roads in a timely manner.

First they target major arterial and collector roads, hillsides and other collectors. Then they fan out from there and last priority is always the residential roads. The side streets don’t actually get plowed until the first and second priority roads are totally cleared. And with back-to-back snowstorms, that doesn’t look likely this week.

“When it happens to you, or someone needs to get somewhere in a hurry, it can be frustrating,” said Gaetz. “Some are residents who have just moved into the community and are used to a different level of snow removal service. But we really did have to prioritize our roads for plowing.”

Motorists are also reminded that it’s not just another day when the roads are bad. Reducing speeds is the mantra of emergency officials.

“If you can, park the car or take the bus,” Gaetz said. “But if you can’t, drive slowly and be careful.”

City snow removal crews were on 12-hour shifts all weekend long.

A total of about 1500 tonnes of salt and sand has gone down on the roads, and snow removal has cost the city about $150,000 so far, in materials and labour costs, with more to come. The city’s total snow budget is $900,000.

The only exceptions for plow-out requests from residents are going to be for medical emergencies, as well as the areas around the hospital, ambulance stations, and fire halls. Requests for emergency plowing can be made by calling 604-793-2810.

Residents who can’t shovel out are encouraged to take advantage of the Snow Angel program, run in association with Chilliwack and District Seniors Resources Society and the city. Email lhayden@shawbiz.ca or call 604.793.9979

Get more details and the map associated with the city’s snow and ice policy at www.chilliwack.com, click on the link “Snow and Ice Control Program.”

Check out the state of highways at www.drive.bc.ca.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/CHWKjourno