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Unexpected heavy snow stomps the Monday morning commute

December 19, 2016
Stalled bus at 6:55 a.m., stomped by Monday morning's heavy snow.

Stalled bus at 6:55 a.m., stomped by Monday morning’s heavy snow.

“SORRY…NOT IN SERVICE” declared the LED signs on the front of all three stalled transit buses in the westbound lane of1400 block of West Broadway Avenue at 7:21 a.m. Monday morning (December 19). But it was the ad slogan emblazoned across the driver side of the leading dead bus that said it all:

“STOMP”

And stomp is exactly what the unexpected heavy dump of wet snow (forecast to be rain) did to the morning commute, not to mention a lot of trees.

It was difficult enough for me to claw and fight my way through the ankle-deep snow with my bike and trailer to get to the relative warmth and comfort of the McDonald’s at the intersection of West Broadway and Granville Street. But from what I heard from commuters all morning, it sounds like I had it easy.

For starters, people were saying that buses downtown were slowed if not completely stopped by the snow.

I know that all morning the buses traveling northbound along South Granville Street, which would normally continue all the way downtown, were stopping short of the steep hill down to the Granville Street Bridge. Instead, the drivers of these buses were offloading their passengers before 16th Avenue and then continuing empty down Granville Street only as far as the intersection with West Broadway Avenue and then turning east.

I heard this directly from disembarked passengers who had to struggle the 7 blocks from 16th Avenue through the thick snow to the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue. None of these people seemed angered so much as traumatized by their Monday morning transit experience.

The last bus I saw in the eastbound lane of the 1400 block of West Broadway...at 7:04 a.m.

One of the very few buses I saw in the eastbound lane of the 1400 block of West Broadway Ave.

This is why I saw a few empty Number 16 29th Avenue Stations picking up passengers in the eastbound Number 9 Boundary stop in the 1400 block of West Broadway. Well, the last one of these that I saw was at 7:04 a.m. I didn’t see another bus of any kind for nearly two and a  half hours, until one with no designation picked up passengers at 9:33!

And I have to say that in all the time since I arrived at my window seat perch, just before 7 a.m, I have seen exactly one City of Vancouver snowplow truck plowing its way the eastbound along West Broadway!

For sheer unpreparedness and widespread chaos this Monday’s snow beats the snow of Monday, December 12, hands down!

Winter scores another tactical surprise against Vancouver

looking south up Spruce St., through a fallen tree limb, at West Broadway Ave.

looking south up Spruce St., through a fallen tree limb, at West Broadway Ave.

I (and apparently the City of Vancouver and TransLink) went to bed with the comforting belief that the temperature of 2° Celcius was only going to go up over night and, if anything, Vancouver was going to wake up to heavy rain that, while it would be cold, would still wash away the remains of Sunday’s snow.

At 4:30 a.m. however, I was awoken by a loud dry wrenching and cracking sound—a large tree branch, I thought, or maybe a whole tree, had just fallen. And yes, I could see heavy snow falling as well.

Heavy indeed! The temperature had obviously dropped overhight just enough for the forecast precipitation to actually rain down in the form of leaden drops of gelid slush.

Several more times, over the next two hours, the dry shotgun crack of large branches giving way under the weight of snow disturbed my shuteye.

dead-busses-1400-blk-w-broadway-2016-12-19-6-50a

The sight that greeted me when I arrived in the 1400 block of West Broadway at 7:50 a.m.

When I did finally get up and leave my parkade sleeping spot, not only did I have to physically drag my bike and trailer kicking and screaming (me, not my rig), up a slope for a block and a half through ankle-deep, wet snow but my direct path was blocked at least seven times by treefalls—both large limbs and clusters of small branches.

I actauly had an appointment for 8 a.m., to do a bit of computer tutoring in East Vancouver but once I arrived panting at McDonald’s, I emailed my tutoree and asked if I could take a rain check, er, a snow check, for Tuesday.

The 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue, looking absolutely slushious at 10 a.m.

The 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue, looking absolutely slushious at 10 a.m.

As of 10 a.m., the snow had long-since stopped falling, the sun was out and everything on and along West Broadway Avenue was, as far as I could see, thick with wet, treacherous, slushy snow—both the roadway and the sidewalks. Except…yes, yes, I could see someone across the street shoveling the sidewalk in front of the bank. Good job! Click the images to enlarge hem.

Time for slush and puddles at 11:02 a.m.

Time for slush and puddles at 11:02 a.m.

6 Comments
  1. Margaret permalink

    Thanks for the fast report! What a morning!

  2. When I need to know what’s happening on the ground along the Broadway corridor I now ignore the radio and look for your reports Stanley – thanks.

  3. Did not make it to work today. Good to see your report.

    • I imagine that lot of other people didn’t make it either. I only feel bad for any that lost pay or were somehow inconvenienced, like if they will have to work twice as hard to catch up tomorrow. Otherwise, I hope everyone did something nice with their day.

      • I hope you kept warm all day, thinking of you and the blanket brothers while I stayed indoor all day. Take Care.

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