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Coquihalla Highway gets first snowfall, more to come

If you’re driving to the Interior, check your tires first

With five centimetres of snow cleared from the Coquihalla Highway and more expected in the days ahead, motorists are reminded winter driving season is here.

In fact, anyone driving outside of city limits without proper snow tires sporting a mountain and snowflake logo will be fined $121.

RCMP Cpl. Cheryl Bush said the province requires all vehicles travelling designated highways be equipped with snow tires or chains as of Oct. 1.

“It’s not just winter passes,” she said. “I don’t see a single highway in B.C. where it isn’t (required).

OK Tire Kamloops owner Cary Petrie said the provincial legislation has been in place for about three years. He’s made every effort to educate customers to the requirement and penalty for non-compliance.

As a result, his shop has been swamped since the end of September and booked through the rest of the week, he said.

“We’re going crazy,” said Petrie.

If Petrie wasn’t busy already, a dump of snow on the Coquihalla overnight Monday could make him busier. Environment Canada reported five centimetres by Tuesday morning and meteorologist Doug Lundquist anticipates more will come.

Snow is in the forecast tonight and Thursday morning and again by the long weekend, he said.

“You really want to be aware late this week about what is going on if you’re planning travel to Alberta or over the Coq,” said Lundquist.

Lundquist reminds people conditions in the valley bottom are different at higher elevations. He said it’s not unusual for snow to fall on the Coquihalla and other mountain passes in late September.

“If it didn’t happen by now, I would start to worry,” he said.

VSA Highway Maintenance vice president Bob Gilowski said motorists need to be prepared when driving at higher elevations, and proper winter tires are a part of that.

“It’s time to start thinking about our winter-driving habits,” he said. “The biggest thing behind that is, get your winter tires on if you’re driving over the high-elevation mountain passes.”

All-season tires won’t do, said Petrie. Only tires with the mountain and snowflake are considered winter tires.