November 26, 2006

Winter in British Columbia, poor traffic reports and more

Well, its the end of November and winter is on us here on the West coast of British Columbia. Its amazing that we actually have snow this early in the year (typically we get one or 2 snow falls here on Vancouver Island) as we rarely get any white stuff before the new year. Making it worse for yours truly is the fact that I'm in the middle of moving! We packed up the house yesterday and then tried to make our way south to Victoria (I'm about 100 km north in Nanaimo) but had to turn back due to bad weather. People often joke that we dont know how to drive, however, things are pretty messy here, add to that people aren't that well prepared (ie. many use all season tires rather than studded snow tires etc...). What really makes it rough here is that we get huge air masses that have tons of moisture (aka. the Pineapple express) and when it collides with cold air from the north you get a real nasty situation with frozen slush, black ice etc... Last night I was driving with the family (wife, 3 kids, the dog) and we ran into a road closure on the main highway over a stretch known infamously here as the Malahat.. plain and simple.. its one of the scariest roads you'll encounter... trust me on this one. The government here has ignored doing anything about it as apparently its too costly to create a better route. I guess the 700,000 people on the Island aren't important enough (but PEI on the East coast is important enough to get a freaking brigde.. dont get me going on that one!!) and we can spend $billions preparing the highway to Whistler for the Olympics. So the road was closed and I detour to the only alternative, a pathetic part of our wonderful ferry system that connects Mill Bay with Brentwood Bay. The ferry runs in and out of an un-manned terminal (ie. no information provided to stranded travelers) and the final sailing to the rest of the World is at about 6:20 PM. Saturday night with the highway shut down the ferry system added one extra sailing... did i mention that the piece of crap "ferry" holds 16 vehicles! So, as I sat there with the family with about 45 cars ahead of me i turned around and came home. Finally safe and sound at home and Paige, te sick one can get some commfort. As I surf the Internet seeking information and road conditions, my confidence in the BC communication resources is lacking as every hour passes. The Min of transportation provides the requisite cameras and some textual information, however, I notice that some cameras dont appear to update when they say they are (I notice the same vehicle in a camera for about 20 minutes) and a textual report displayed gives me information and weather from about 4 hours ago... nice! Once again I have to wonder why cant we have a resource available to the public for their safety that can commpare to what we find south in Washington, Oregon etc... I've been researching weather for my coming trip to Fort Collins next week and have great confidence in traffic conditions and weather reports provided by the DOTs of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado... kudos to all these resources! Anyone from BC MOTH out there listening... how about some resources to keep Joe public safe? HEre's what I want... detailed maps with reports that show changing conditions at mile intervals (even 10 mile intervals would be nice). How about more than 2 web cameras between the trecherous 100 km stretch between Nanaimo and Victoria? Simple, color coded maps (ie. yellow, green, red) to show hazards, with a legend that makes sense and links to detailed textual reports... all of this information is out there, lets unlock it from some of the IT departments that are hoarding it! Later from the great White west. On the upside, since the cupboards are bare here (recall we packed yesterday) we've come up with some interesting meals andf made some great drinks using up the contents of the liquor cabinet... hurricance mix, peach snapps, tequilla (or rum)...mmmmmmm

No comments: