Weather warnings cover much of B.C. as bitter cold settles in, more snow approaches – Canada

Environment Canada has issued weather warnings for most of British Columbia as winter weather conditions tighten their grip across the province Monday, creating dangerous cold and complicating travel ahead of the holiday season.

The weather agency is expecting another round of snow for the South Coast starting in the evening, due to a low pressure weather system coming up from Washington state.

“Typically when we get these Pacific systems, we may get a few hours of snow and then it would quickly transition to rain, but because now we have the cold air in place, this warm air isn’t able to erode the surface cold air and all the precipitation will fall as snow,” said meteorologist Jonathan Bau.

The snow will start on Vancouver Island, then move to the mainland around midnight.

The Greater Victoria area, the Malahat Highway and the Southern Gulf Islands can expect as much as 25 centimetres, while Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley can expect 5-10 centimetres. 

It comes after 10-15 centimetres fell on the South Coast on Sunday morning.

A webcam shows a significant amount of snowfall and piled up cars at a highway exit.
A traffic camera shows cars piled up at the Cross Street exit of Highway 1 in West Vancouver on Sunday. The B.C. government warned of delays on the route due to spun-out cars, just two weeks after a snowstorm caused traffic chaos in the region. (DriveBC)

Environment Canada expects a break in the snow on Wednesday before it picks up again on Thursday or Friday. Meteorologists said below-seasonal temperatures will stick around throughout next week, with maximum temperatures in Metro Vancouver “struggling” to break –5 C.

Sunday’s snowfall led to a number of road closures and flight delays at Vancouver International Airport. Several highways, including Highway 1 and the Coquihalla Highway, were either littered with spun-out vehicles or forced to close entirely.

The province has warned drivers to stay home if travel isn’t necessary. If they must leave, a statement said drivers should pack an emergency kit in their vehicles and ensure their vehicle has proper snow tires.

Extreme cold, risk of frostbite in northern B.C.

In the northern half of the province, more extreme cold is in the forecast for regions including Chilcotin, Quesnel, Williams Lake, Prince George, Stuart and 100 Mile.

Frigid Arctic air is pushing temperatures as low as –30 C, with wind chill making it feel like –40 C. 

“A very cold Arctic air mass is has settled over the region,” read a weather warning for the Cariboo region.

“Extreme cold puts everyone at risk. Risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter.”

Arctic outflow warnings remain in place for the central and north coasts, including inland sections. Extreme cold warnings are also in place in the Muncho Lake Park, Dease Lake, Cassiar Mountains and Watson Lake regions in the far north.

A person shovels snow next to a dog on a snowy street.
Sunday was a day for shovelling snow and digging out cars in Metro Vancouver, and the forecast suggests similar work will be required this week. (Nick Allan/CBC)

Special weather statements warning of frostbite risk cover the Haines Road, Atlin, Teslin, Peace River, Williston and Fort Nelson regions.

In the southern Interior, extreme cold warnings are in place for the Elk Valley and Yoho Park regions, and a snowfall warning has been posted for the West Kootenay region.

Wind chill could make it feel like –35 C overnight near Elk Valley and Yoho Park, which straddle the B.C.-Alberta border.

Most of Alberta is also under extreme cold warnings, with wind chill making temperatures feel as cold as –40 C across much of the province.

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