UPDATE: Monday, Jan 10
Metro Vancouver has reopened Lynn Headwaters Regional Park but the series of recent storms has left an awful mess in there.
The regional authority closed the park on Thursday due to heavy snow. The windstorm that blew in on Friday only exacerbated things.
“When the trees get weighted, their boughs break and sometimes their tops break and sometimes trees break,” said Tom McComb, supervisor for Metro Vancouver Parks. “Lynn was hit fairly hard … with blown trees, broken tree tops, branches, heavy snow accumulations.”
Since the worst of the storm passed, contractors have been in clearing out downed trees, branches and dangerous snags. On Monday morning, Metro reopened Lynn Headwaters and most of Capilano River Regional Park is now accessible.
But McComb added, things are still a bit rough.
“It will be [a mess], probably for about another week until we can get all the crews in there,” he said.
Anyone venturing into the North Shore’s trails should expect slippery conditions, with snow and ice, especially on stairs, McComb said.
“The caution is for the public to have your proper footwear and winter clothing, because it's pretty miserable out there,” he said.
With another major bout of heavy rain now drenching the Lower Mainland, McComb urged anyone going into the parks to keep well back from creeks and streams, as they will be rushing.
The North Shore backcountry, which Metro considers anything beyond Norvan Falls, remains closed for the winter, as the entire area is hazardous.
ORIGINAL: Friday, Jan. 7
Veena Sood was out for a walk in Mahon Park trails Friday when she had a too-close-for-comfort encounter with the physics of snow load and wind gusts in the North Vancouver forest.
Sood said she was about a minute into her walk near Jones Avenue and 18th Street “when I heard a loud cracking sound.”
At first she couldn’t figure out where the noise was coming from. “Then I looked up and saw above my head, the trunk of a big tree coming down towards me. I bolted forward in the nick of time and the tree missed me by a few seconds. I actually felt the rush of wind behind my neck as the trunk and the secondary branches hit the ground right behind me.”
Sood said she saw another smaller tree fall up ahead on the trail and decided to beat a hasty retreat.
City of North Vancouver parks staff who investigated said the tree had uprooted, likely as a result of the soil becoming oversaturated with snowmelt, combined with high winds.
Crews were out Friday and Saturday checking for leaning or falling trees.
Similar dangers closed Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver Friday and Saturday after Metro Vancouver parks staff decided breaking trees and branches resulted in dangerous conditions.
Heavy snowfall in the park, followed by windstorms, has resulted in a number of trees and branches falling due to snow load, said Tom McComb, supervisor of parks operations for Metro Vancouver, on Friday (Jan. 7).
Crews are currently out in the park, assessing trails, he said. “But there’s about 40 kilometres of trails there.”
The park is expected to remain closed on Saturday until crews can do a complete assessment.
McComb said even when parks are open, people should be cautious when they are out in the forest “especially during gusty wind events.”
Many of the trails are also slippery with compact snow and ice, he warned.
“Just be aware and wear proper footwear.”
The public can check on the status of regional parks, including any closures and hazard alerts for particular sections, on Metro Vancouver’s park notices website page, which is regularly updated.