You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Heavy snow, wind lash B.C. South Coast, dangerous travel forces closures

The Weather Network logo The Weather Network 3 days ago Digital Writers
UP NEXT
UP NEXT

Winter is hitting southern B.C. in a big way on Wednesday, with what may be a historic snowstorm for parts of Vancouver Island. Accumulations of up to half a metre are in the cards over higher terrain of the island, while 20 to 30 cm will be widespread at lower elevations. Add to that wind gusts of up to 100 km/h and you've got the recipe for a disruptive, damaging wintry blast with blizzard conditions at times. We break down what you need to know below.

January outlook: Checking in on winter in Canada with The Weather Network's Dr. Doug Gillham

a car parked on the side of a snow covered city street © Provided by The Weather Network WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Significant accumulations for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, South Coast as major winter storm moves through on Wednesday
  • Potential for blizzard conditions on Vancouver Island Wednesday night/early Thursday
  • Numerous warnings issued for Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland for wind and snow
  • Heavy rain, mountain snow into weekend as Arctic air finally recedes
  • Stay aware of ALERTS in your area

THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: QUICKLY ACCUMULATING SNOW FORCES WIDESPREAD CLOSURES

With cold air staying in place, rounds of moisture targetting the coast for the rest of the week will mean a hefty helping of additional snow for both the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

Before 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning, more than 20 cm of snow had already been recorded in Victoria, with closer to 10 cm reported in the city of Vancouver.

Quickly deteriorating road conditions forced school closures in every school district across the Lower Mainland, with significant delays due to inclement weather reported from Metro Vancouver's bus and SkyTrain services. TransLink advised customers to stay home where possible as Wednesday would be considered an "extreme travel day."

A number of school districts on Vancouver Island are also closed for the day.

a close up of text on a black background © Provided by The Weather Network

According to officials, Highway 1 in the Fraser Valley has been hit especially hard, and Abbotsford police were urging drivers to just stay home.

"Emergency crews are having a difficult time reaching stranded motorists," the Abbotsford Polce Department tweeted. "The roads are treacherous. Please stay home."

The Sea to Sky Highway was also shut down south of Porteau Cove due to a weather-related incident on Wednesday morning.

Heavy snow will persist for central Vancouver Island into Wednesday afternoon, particularly along the east coast from Nanaimo northward.

© Provided by The Weather Network

WEDNESDAY NIGHT/THURSDAY: BLIZZARD CONDITIONS, DAMAGING WINDS EXPECTED

While heavy snow starts to ease slightly through the overnight on the island, the winds will strengthen. Blizzard conditions are likely through the overnight hours for much of the region hardest-hit by snow, making for treacherous travel conditions along Highway 19 and other area routes. Winter storm warnings have been issued for much of eastern Vancouver Island.

RARE BLIZZARD WARNING

In Howe Sound, Environment Canada issued a rare blizzard warning Wednesday morning, with heavy snow and gusty winds making for dangerous blizzard conditions. Strong northerly winds of 90 to 110 km/h near Bowen Island are expected to persist through Wednesday night.

FROM THE MET DESK: FOCUS ON VANCOUVER ISLAND

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

Wind warnings are also in effect for much of southwestern B.C., both on the mainland and Vancouver Island, including Victoria and parts of Metro Vancouver. Southwest winds of 70 to 90 km/h, with higher gusts, will develop Wednesday evening and spread north and east through the night.

a close up of text on a black background © Provided by The Weather Network

All told, between 10 to 20 cm of snow is possible for lower elevations of southern Vancouver Island, including Victoria, and the Fraser Valley, while 30 to 50+ cm is on the table for central Vancouver Island, and 10 to 30 cm for Metro Vancouver.

Accumulations will increase with elevation for both the island and the mainland.

INTO THE WEEKEND: MILDER AIR RETURNS, ROUNDS OF HEAVY RAIN AND MOUNTAIN SNOW CONTINUE

The harshest of the cold air will start to retreat later on Thursday, allowing temperatures to slowly creep up to the 0°C mark. Some coastal areas along southern Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland could start to see a rain/snow mix with some periods of rain.

It doesn't mean the end of the active weather, however. A series of low pressure systems swirling through the Gulf of Alaska will bring rain and mountain snow to most of the coast through the weekend.

Heavy rain and rising snow levels may mean further trouble for both avalanche territory and localized flooding.

WATCH AS RAPIDLY FALLING SNOW PILES UP IN VICTORIA

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Weather Network

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon