Winter storm closes highways and leaves thousands without power as high winds forecast for south coast

Other weather warnings are in effect in several parts of British Columbia as winter storms continue to wreak havoc on the province’s road systems and utilities.

Environment Canada announced Friday that heavy snowfall was forecast for the interior of the province and warned drivers of the dangers on major highways, some of which have been closed.

Much of the north has been placed on extreme cold alert, and as BC Hydro crews scramble to restore power to thousands of customers on the south coast, a wind warning has been issued for the metro area. of Vancouver and Greater Victoria.

According to DriveBC, a high avalanche risk has already forced the closure of Route 3 at Allison Pass and Kootenay Pass, as well as Route 1 north of Yale. Highway 5, which was open to commercial traffic only, is currently closed between Hope and Merritt due to freezing rain. Highway 99 remains open despite an avalanche warning between Pemberton and Lillooet.

Snowfall and slippery roads have also prompted travel advisories for sections of Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton, the Eagle Trans-Canada Highway to Rogers Pass, and the Yellowhead and South Klondike Highways.

Up to 25 centimeters of snow is possible for the Coquhalla Highway on Friday as an intense Pacific frontal system continues to bring heavy snow and freezing rain to the area.

Freezing rain is forecast for parts of the Fraser Valley and Howe Sound, which has also triggered an advisory for the Sea-to-Sky Highway.

The City of Chilliwack has advised people to avoid non-essential travel due to the ice storm. He says crews are working to apply salt and sand to the roads and residents should report downed power lines to 911 and downed trees to the city.

Road conditions are available on drivebc.ca.

Schools were closed for another day in the Mission, Chilliwack and Fraser Cascade school districts.

Wind warning, breakdowns

Environment Canada is forecasting strong winds for Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria starting Friday morning, which does not bode well for BC Hydro crews as gusts of up to 90 km / h could result in more power outages = blackout.

More than 20,000 customers woke up Friday morning night, mostly in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island.

The winter storm knocked a tree onto a car in Vancouver on Tuesday. Environment Canada is forecasting strong winds for Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria on Friday morning, which could bring down trees and pose a problem for BC Hydro customers. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

In northern Vancouver Island, residents of the remote communities of Tahsis and Zeballos have been without power since January 4. Heavy wet snow damaged transmission lines and infrastructure in several locations, which are currently only accessible by helicopter.

Authorities say due to weather conditions the access road to Zeballos may not be safe for drivers until January 14.

BC Ferries canceled several south coast crossings on Friday due to high winds. They include crossings between:

  • Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay.
  • Tsawwassen and Duke Point.
  • Horseshoe Bay and Depart Bay.
  • Powell River and Comox.
  • Powell River and Texada Island.

Exact details of canceled crossings are available on the BC Ferries website.

Environment Canada says the winds should ease during the afternoon.

The Vancouver Park Board closed sections of the seawall, while the City of West Vancouver closed the seafront promenade and Ambleside Park due to the winds and a simultaneous rising tide.

Royal tide is a colloquial term for the highest tides, which occur due to additional gravitational forces on Earth’s oceans produced by the sun and moon.

Watch out for frostbite

Temperatures in the north fell below -40 ° C in some communities on Thursday, with Dease Lake reaching -43.5 ° C, a record for the city in the northwest of the province.

Extreme cold alerts were issued for Dease Lake on Friday, as well as the Peace River area, Cassiar Mountains, Haines Road, Muncho Lake Park and Williston.

According to Environment Canada, a very cold air mass hovering over northern British Columbia through Saturday, combined with moderate winds, could create wind chill values ​​below -40 ° C.

The weather agency is warning people to watch for cold-related symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle aches and weakness, numbness, and color change in fingers and toes.

To find forecasts for your community, visit Environment Canada.

For a list of shelters, including women’s-only shelters and family shelters where homeless people can seek shelter from the cold, visit BC Housing.

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