A cold snap is underway in the Nicola Valley, bringing freezing temperatures followed by a blanket of snow later in the week. Families and individuals are urged to prepare for the well below freezing weather by taking steps to mitigate their risk of temperature related injuries and travel related mishaps. 

Environment Canada forecasts temperatures to be in the minus 20s all week, with lows near minus 30 degrees celsius. Things will warm up in time for the weekend, which could see snow flurries. In the meantime, frigid temperatures are expected to persist. The Province of BC is urging Merrittonians to prepare for the wintery conditions, and reminding them of local services providing shelter for the unhoused. 

“Before travelling, check the forecast. Be prepared by packing a winter survival kit, including a windshield scraper, a snow brush, flashlights and extra batteries, first-aid supplies, blankets, drinking water and non-perishable food,” read a release from the province.

The release added that a number of warming spaces and emergency shelters are being provincially funded throughout B.C, including two in Merritt. The Nicola Valley Community Shelter, located at 2350 Voght Street, is a 30 bed emergency shelter offering daily meals, showers, beds, and storage lockers. Along with it, a 24 hour warming centre has been opened at 2038 Nicola Avenue, offering a space to warm up from the frigid temperatures. The programs are both funded by the province through BC Housing, bolstered by community donations. 

The Nicola Valley Shelter and Support Society (NVSSS) is a local non-profit organization that administers the emergency shelter and warming centre programming in the Nicola Valley, along with a number of outreach initiatives. Donations to the organizations have slowed down in recent years, and they currently seek donations of winter clothing items to their shelter. 

“Always wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Dressing in layers, with a wind- and water-resistant outer layer, provides flexibility for changing conditions,” adds the release.

“To avoid frostbite, cover as much exposed skin as possible by wearing hats, scarves and gloves. Try to stay dry and change out of wet clothing as soon as possible.”

For up to date information on weather forecasts, visit www.weather.gc.ca. Road conditions and highway cameras can be viewed at www.drivebc.ca. For more information on the Nicola Valley Shelter and Support Society, visit the organization’s website at www.nvshelterandsupport.com.