Residents on BC’s south coast from Vancouver Island to Chilliwack woke up to winter landscapes and snow-covered roads after a storm system swept through the region overnight.
From Wednesday night, the storm brought snowfall of up to 25 centimeters in some areas.
Canada’s environmental meteorologist Philippe-Alain Bergeron said the storm followed a somewhat unusual trajectory.
“It’s a small compact storm that was heading down the coast, and it’s really squeezed between the great upper ridge above the Pacific Ocean, and that’s why the course was almost north to south,” he said.
The Weather Service lifted warnings of snowfall for large parts of the south coast later Thursday morning as the snowfall subsided.
Meanwhile, Arctic heights are still being felt over the interior of BC and the Canadian prairies. Bergeron said Thursday will be colder than average in British Columbia, but only by about 5 degrees compared to the 10 to 15 degrees colder than average temperatures experienced over the past few days.
Crews busy clearing snow-covered roads
Road staff have already plowed bus routes, motorways, bridges and tunnels in the lower mainland.
Darren Ell, general manager of Mainroad Lower Mainland Contracting, said 30 trucks from his company have been out for hours, moving huge amounts of snow from the province’s highways between the U.S. border and 1st Avenue.
“Vehicles are driving through, but it’s winter driving,” he said. “If you do not have to come to work, stay home for a few hours and come in later.”
Surrey RCMP spokeswoman Vanessa Munn warned drivers to slow down and be patient if they are going out.
“Be aware that it will take significantly longer to get anywhere this morning,” she said. “Even if you have a 4×4 or a vehicle with snow tires that can allow you to drive a little faster, it does not help you stop faster.”
Mainroad does not clear urban roads, which is the responsibility of the municipalities.
An employee of the City of Vancouver said crews were out plowing and sanding roads all night and that the city’s snow clearing plan was clearing lanes of roads in order of priority, starting with bus routes, arteries and bridges, emergency evacuation routes and routes adjacent to major hospitals.
Transit commuters experience delays due to snowfall as SkyTrain cars are operated manually and buses are trapped in the snow.
“Buses are only as good as the roads they run on, which is why we work actively with the municipalities to ensure that major roads are cleared and that there is access to our transit centers,” said TransLink spokeswoman Tina Lovgreen.
She added that customers should dress for the weather conditions and check transit warnings for their route before leaving the house.
Ell said the provincial roads for which his company is responsible were cleared and salted before the snowfall so they will not be icy cold and the snow accumulation will be cleared quickly.
It will give drivers and commuters some relief before the next winter storm, Bergeron said, is expected to arrive Saturday, this time from the Pacific. There is also a chance that the snow will turn to rain on Sunday.
“This could be a very exciting New Year’s weekend with snow and then rain and then snow again as a plausible scenario,” he said.