Warming Centres Open as Snow Blankets East Kootenay

The RDEK’s Emergency Operations Centre has been activated in the Elk Valley to help coordinate support efforts in the wake of this week’s heavy snowfall.

Emergency Social Services (ESS) volunteers have opened warming centres in Sparwood and Elko and have a third warming centre opening this afternoon in Fernie to help provide a warm shelter for stranded travellers as Highway 3 remains closed in two areas. “Currently, 38 people have registered at the warming centre in Sparwood and Elko has 11,” says RDEK Information Officer Loree Duczek. “Drivers are asked to postpone any non-essential travel. If it’s not necessary that you be out on area highways, please stay home.”

The Highway is closed from Elko to 10 km west of Fernie because of high avalanche hazard and active removal of avalanche debris on the highway. A warming centre has been set up at the Elko Community Hall for residents and travellers.

Highway 3 is also closed at the BC/Alberta border due to heavy snowfall and low visibility in Alberta. The warming center in Sparwood has been moved from Fire Hall #1 to the Sparwood Leisure Centre, located at 367 Pine Avenue.  A warming centre will also open at 3:00pm at the Fernie Community Centre on Highway 3.  There is no estimate on when the highway through the Pass may reopen.

Travel advisories have been issued today for Highway 95A from Kimberley to the Wasa Junction and Highway 3 from Goatfel to Cranbrook due to limited visibility, blowing and heavy snow.

“Travellers trying to travel east to Alberta are urged to use the Highway 93 route through Kootenay National Park and stay off the Highway 3 corridor from Cranbrook to the Elk Valley,” adds Duczek. Though there are winter driving conditions, Highway 93 through the Park is currently open.

The entire East Kootenay, including the Elk Valley and north to Invermere, is under a snowfall warning and the forecast is calling for an additional 15-35cm of snow by this evening with the potential for strong, gusty winds, reduced visibility and heavy snow.

To stay on top of the latest advisories and conditions, residents and travellers are encouraged to check the following resources before heading out: