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Snowfall, winter storm warnings in effect for much of B.C.

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

On Saturday afternoon, Environment Canada issued updated alerts projecting 10 to 25 centimetres of snowfall in much of the Interior through Sunday.

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

It adds the Fraser Canyon could see up to 25 centimetres of snowfall.

Along the South Coast, including Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and up to the Whistler region, 10 to 25 centimetres could gather, up to 30 in higher elevations.

On the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island — except the nothernmost areas — snow between five to 15 centimetres could fall, with some areas seeing 20 centimetres.

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

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

Environment Canada forecasts the snowfall and storm conditions will lighten up to flurries by late Sunday in most areas.

Winter storm warnings are also in effect for Prince George and the Stuart-Nechako region, where up to 30 centimetres of snow could fall this weekend.
Winter storm warnings are also in effect for Prince George and the Stuart-Nechako region, where up to 30 centimetres of snow could fall this weekend. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Road crews, airlines preparing 

The Transportation Ministry said in a statement Friday evening that crews were proactively applying anti-icing brine and would be out plowing to manage the snow, but drivers are reminded to avoid unnecessary travel in poor conditions.

TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transportation network, said it was taking steps to prepare for the snow, including calling in extra staff.

Spokesperson Dan Mountain said riders should check online or on the authority’s social media channels before taking a trip in case there are issues on a route.

He says they’ve activated a “snow desk” so bus drivers can get the latest information on conditions from municipalities. He added the desk’s capacity in labour and phone lines have been increased since the powerful snowfall in December.

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

“That means de-icing fluid and hockey sticks,” Mountain said.

Airplanes are pictured at an airport after a heavy snowfall.
Vancouver International Airport says it’s preparing for up to 20 centimetres of heavy, wet snow between Saturday afternoon and overnight. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In a statement, a spokesperson for Vancouver International Airport said about 15 per cent of total flights in and out of YVR Saturday evening have been cancelled or delayed.

They say there is a possibility for a pause on departures or arrivals for a short time due to limited visibility and extreme rates of snowfall. 

The airport is preparing for between 15 and 25 centimetres of heavy, wet snow, with the heaviest snowfall expected between 7 p.m. and midnight. 

“We have been working with [airlines] to adjust their schedules and thin out their schedules and the advance of the snow coming this evening,” chief external affairs officer Mike McNaney said in an interview, adding the 15 per cent figure also reflects flights into early Sunday.

“Some flights have been postponed, others may have been cancelled, some have been shifted later on in the evening or into early tomorrow to get on the other side of the storm.”

YVR says its crews are already working to keep the runways clear and airlines have been asked to ensure towing capacity so empty aircraft aren’t left sitting at gates. 

Passengers are being encouraged to check the status of their flight before arrival, and to leave extra time when travelling to the airport.

The snow comes on the heels of a cold snap that gripped much of the province this week, with Environment Canada saying the accompanying wind chill made regions throughout northern and central B.C. and near the Rockies feel as cold as –45 C.

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