Police are urging drivers to slow down and use common sense on our newly covered winter roads.

It’s official: winter has arrived

The first full blast of winter caught local drivers off guard this week, as it usually does.

The first full blast of winter caught local drivers off guard this week, as it usually does.

Between 6 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Nelson Police Department responded to five weather-related crashes, two involving single vehicles and three multiple vehicles.

None resulted in injuries, although there was substantial damage.

Thursday morning saw another multiple-vehicle crash with no injuries.

Sgt. Howie Grant says every year drivers seem to need time to adjust.

“It’s very typical. People tend to go way too fast. You don’t want to go down the steepest hill in Nelson, even if you have a four-wheel drive, because you will slide.”

Grant advises sticking to well-plowed bus routes.

“Don’t bother going down Cedar Street from Silica,” he says.

Meanwhile, RCMP Cpl. Dave Barnhart of West Kootenay Traffic Services said Thursday morning his colleagues responded to a series of single vehicle crashes, including one on the east end of the Taghum Bridge.

A vehicle went backwards into the rock wall by the intersection of Highway 3A and Granite Road.

There was also a rollover at South Slocan. Neither incident resulted in injuries.

Barnhart agrees people often exhibit collective amnesia about winter driving when the first snow hits: “It sometimes takes a little bit [to sink in], and a few examples to show them.”

He added freezing rain overnight Wednesday made things more slippery, creating “challenging” conditions for motorists and highway maintenance crews.

Forecaster Ron Lakeman of the Southeast Fire Centre measured nine centimetres of snow in Castlegar, and figured a similar amount fell in Nelson.

He said another wave of moisture is expected tonight, “so there could easily be another five or ten centimeters of snow.”

Snow is expected Friday morning, but should ease off in the afternoon. The weekend is trending colder, but drier. There is a chance of flurries Saturday night and Sunday morning, although it isn’t expected to amount to much, Lakeman says.

“It could be the coldest air mass we’ve seen so far this year. It’s tough to say if it’s going to be a true arctic outbreak, but definitely has the makings.”

More significant snow is expected Monday and Tuesday.

“Winter is here, there’s no debate on that,” Lakeman said.

Whitewater Ski Resort is tentatively set to open for a sneak peak on the weekend of December 3 and 4, and then begin full operations on December 9.

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