Snowfall, winter storm warnings in effect for much of BC

Prince George, BC is on February 25th with a heavy snow warning.  (Andrew Kurjata/CBC - photo credit)

Prince George, BC is on February 25th with a heavy snow warning. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC – photo credit)

Snowfall and winter storm warnings are in effect for much of British Columbia as a north-south weather system moves through the province.

On Saturday afternoon, Environment Canada issued updated alerts forecasting 10 to 25 inches of snowfall through Sunday across much of the interior.

The North Thompson, Columbia, Shuswap and Kootenay Lake regions could see up to 40 centimeters of snow, while Prince George could accumulate up to 30 centimeters through Sunday.

It adds that Fraser Canyon could see up to 10 inches of snowfall.

Along the south coast, including Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and into the Whistler region, 10 to 25 centimeters could accumulate, with up to 30 centimeters at higher elevations.

On the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island — excluding the northernmost areas — snow could fall between five and 15 centimeters, with 20 centimeters seen in some areas.

Winter storm warnings are also in place for much of the interior, including Prince George. They also cover the Fraser Valley, the North Shore regions and long stretches of the Coquihalla Highway, Highway 3 and Yellowhead.

“Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve,” the weather service advises. “Rapidly falling snow could make traveling through some locations difficult.”

Environment Canada is forecasting snowfall and storm conditions to improve through late Sunday in most areas.

Andrew Kurjata/CBC

Andrew Kurjata/CBC

Road crews, airlines prepare

The Transport Ministry said in a statement Friday night that crews would be proactive in applying anti-ice brine and plowing the snow, but drivers are being reminded to avoid unnecessary trips in poor conditions.

TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transit network, said it is taking steps to prepare for the snow, including bringing on additional employees.

Spokesman Dan Mountain said drivers should check online or on the agency’s social media channels before driving to see if there are any problems on a route.

He says they’ve activated a “snow switch” so bus drivers can get the latest information on conditions from the communities. He added that the working capacity of the desk and the phone lines have been increased since December’s heavy snowfall.

SkyTrain attendants, he said, will have all the tools needed to ensure train doors open properly.

“That means deicing fluid and hockey sticks,” Mountain said.

Ben Nelms/CBC

Ben Nelms/CBC

In a statement, a Vancouver International Airport spokesman said about 15 percent of all flights to and from YVR were canceled or delayed as of Saturday night.

They say there may be a brief pause in departures or arrivals due to reduced visibility and extreme snowfall rates.

The airport is bracing for 6 to 10 inches of wet snow, with the heaviest snowfall expected between 7 p.m. and midnight.

“We worked with [airlines] to adjust and thin out their flight schedules, and the snow coming tonight,” Chief External Affairs Officer Mike McNaney said in an interview, adding that the 15 percent figure also reflects early Sunday flights.

“Some flights have been rescheduled, others may have been cancelled, some have been rescheduled later tonight or tomorrow morning to get on the other side of the storm.”

According to YVR, crews are already working to keep the runways clear and airlines have been asked to ensure towing capacity so that empty planes are not left at the gates.

Passengers are encouraged to check the status of their flight prior to arrival and allow additional time to travel to the airport.

The snow follows a cold snap that gripped much of the province this week, with Environment Canada saying the associated wind chill caused regions throughout northern and central BC and near the Rockies to feel as cold as -45°C to the touch.


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