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Chaos at Pitt Lake as sky watchers cause traffic nightmare

Northern Lights photographers create long traffic jam at regional park
The Northern Lights visible from Maple Ridge on May 10, 2024. (Kyler Emerson/Black Press)

There was a traffic jam at Pitt Lake that took hours to clear on Friday night May 10, as huge crowds flocked to the site touted as a great place to see the Northern Lights.

There was rare Aurora Borealis painting the skies above Greater Vancouver, and around the globe, as a geomagnetic storm that brought hues of pink, purple and green.

But as people looked for the best places to see the spectacle, on the BC Aurora Enthusiasts page there was a warning Saturday afternoon that Pitt Lake had been dangerous the night before, due to cars parking in the middle of the road, people running in front of moving vehicles, speeding vehicles, watchers setting up blankets beside the road to sit on, and no consistent light sources to see by.

“It looked like a scene from an apocalypse movie with cars sideways and cross ways and half on-half off the road,” noted Jessica Squires. “There was little space even in between the cars to walk.”

Those posting responses on the site noted how dangerous the situation was, how they saw close calls where pedestrians were nearly hit, with no way emergency responders could access the scene.

A poster said they were driving to the ecological reserve in Pitt Meadows, and found all the traffic in front of them had stopped and turned off their cars. There were hundreds of cars behind them as well, so the poster said they had no choice, but to turn off their vehicle, and try to enjoy the moment.

It took hours to clear the traffic jam. One of the first to arrive said he was expecting to have to sleep the night in his car.

There were also posts on the BC Aurora Enthusiasts page citing several other locations with similar problems.

Ridge Meadows RCMP report that they had a number of calls from people at Pitt Lake, but none of the calls were in response to a “dangerous situation or any significant event.”

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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