The East Kootenay was hit harder than the West, with power outages reported in Cranbrook. (Photo: Tim Matwey)

Clashing fronts produce wild fall storm

Trees, power lines knocked down from Slocan valley to Trail

The West Kootenay missed being hit by an early winter blast, but residents got a taste of wild weather Tuesday afternoon when two massive weather systems collided over the region.

“It was a fairly active weather day,” Southeast Fire Centre weather forecaster Ron Lakeman said the day after the event. “It’s something more common in June, but it’s not completely uncommon for September-October.”

The front, which saw Arctic air pushing in from the east colliding with a moist Pacific system, brought more than 80 lightning strikes down the Slocan and Columbia valleys on Tuesday afternoon. Heavy rains and winds felled trees and knocked down a power line near Fruitvale. Hail fell in Nelson and snow began falling on the mountain passes as temperatures dropped quickly in the space of an hour or two.

“You can see on the webcams, the Paulson [pass] was rain until the cold weather system started coming through,” said Lakeman. “You could see it chanaging over to snow around 5 p.m. Then around six, around here, when the heavy rain was coming down, you could see the temperature drop from 10-11 degrees to four degrees.”

Nelson resident Bob Hall shot this video of hail falling in Nelson on Wednesday afternoon:

There were isolated power interruptions, but no reports of injuries from the weather event.

At least residents didn’t have to shovel away the aftermath of the storm, unlike the East Kootenay. That region recieved an early-fall dump of snow, as did Calgary, which received more than 40 centimetres of the white stuff.

But it is coming. The snowline dropped to about 11-12oo metres with the change in weather, leaving most of the higher hills in the region crowned with a white cap Wednesday morning.

The longer range forecast is for, well, fall weather. Lakeman says some minor systems may pass over the area, bringing some rain on the Thanksgiving long weekend. Expect cooler temperatures, especially in the morning.

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