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Another winter storm is approaching B.C.’s South Coast, with up to 20 cm snow, freezing rain possible

Posted in Canada, Featured

Published on December 22, 2022 with No Comments

Snow expected to begin Thursday night and begin transitioning to rain late Friday as temperatures rise.

As B.C.’s South Coast deals with the aftermath of heavy snowfall that fell earlier this week, Environment Canada says a “significant winter storm” is set to bring more wintry weather to the region starting Thursday night.

The weather agency issued a winter storm watch Wednesday for Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island, the Fraser Valley and Howe Sound.

It says the following weather is possible at different times over the next two days:

  • Snow
  • Ice pellets
  • Freezing rain
  • Strong winds
  • Extreme cold

“We’re going to see some brutal weather coming overnight and Friday,” Environment Canada meteorologist Trevor Smith told On The Island guest host Kathryn Marlow.

Most of the province remains gripped by extreme cold Thursday, with Environment Canada warning of wind chill values ranging from –20 C in the southwest to –35 C in the southern Interior and Rockies, and down to –40 C in central and northern B.C.

Snowfall starting Thursday night on the South Coast could amount to 10-20 centimetres by Saturday.

Smith said the snow on Thursday will likely be mixed with ice pellets.

Freezing rain is also possible as the weather transitions from snow to rain late Friday on Vancouver Island, and on Friday night or Saturday morning on the mainland.

What’s the difference between ice pellets and freezing rain?

Ice pellets are snowflakes that have melted and subsequently fallen through a freezing layer of air and refrozen before hitting the surface. They usually bounce off the ground, but can make roads dangerously slick.

Freezing rain happens when the layer of freezing air near the ground is so thin that raindrops don’t have enough time to freeze entirely before hitting the ground.

Anything the drops hit can be covered by a layer of ice, making it the most treacherous type of winter precipitation for drivers.

How are the roads?

Both the different types of precipitation and strong winds could make travel challenging during this time, Environment Canada says, and could contribute to delays and heavy traffic.

Rush hour on Thursday afternoon could be particularly slow, it added.

The Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt was closed overnight as high Arctic outflow winds blew away sand that had been put down for traction, B.C.’s Transportation Ministry said.

The highway reopened around 7 a.m. Thursday, DriveBC said.

Highway 3 was also closed in both directions between Manning Park and Princeton due to a vehicle incident Thursday morning, but has since reopened, according to DriveBC.

What about flights and ferries?

The heavy snow already blanketing much of B.C.’s South Coast prompted Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to temporarily limit arriving international flights.

A statement from the airport said the limit affecting 17 airlines and about 30 flights is set to lift at 5 a.m. PT Friday, but a Wednesday afternoon update from YVR said it has seen an increase in the number of flights arriving and departing as the weather improves

B.C. Ferries cancelled two Thursday morning sailings connecting Metro Vancouver and Nanaimo because ice and snow were building up on the vehicle decks.

The company has added more than 150 extra sailings between Thursday and Jan. 2 to manage the busy holiday season, with more than 100 of those sailings connecting Vancouver and Victoria.

A number of sailings were cancelled Wednesday because pipes were bursting and equipment on the boats were freezing, including the throttle on a rescue boat.

What’s next for passengers stranded at the airport?

Under new Canadian regulations introduced this fall, airlines must try to rebook cancelled flights within 48 hours.

Even if the cancellations are outside of the company’s control — in this case, caused by heavy snowfall — anyone who isn’t put on a new flight within two days is entitled to a refund or new travel arrangements at no additional cost.


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