Snowstorm creates travel chaos across B.C.'s South Coast

A dump of wet snow across much of B.C.'s South Coast is causing headaches for travellers, after flights were delayed at major airports in Vancouver and Victoria. Temperatures are expected to rise throughout the week starting late Monday, bringing rain.

Victoria International Airport cancelled several flights after running out of de-icing fluid

Power outages and road closures hit B.C.'s wintry South Coast 2:53

A dump of wet snow across much of B.C.'s South Coast is causing headaches for travellers, after flights were delayed at major airports in Vancouver and Victoria.

Several flights at Victoria International Airport were cancelled, and many delayed, after the airport ran out of de-icing fluid. As the snow turned to rain, many of the cancelled flights resumed.

Airport spokesman Terry Stewart said it's the first time the de-icing fluid supply has run out — on Saturday, the airport had more than 12,000 litres of glycol, but none was left this morning. In the meantime, the airport is arranging to bring in de-icing fluid from other airports.

"We're looking at a secondary supply from Vancouver International trying to get that over here as quickly as possible, and the logistics of that are not easy," he said.

Flights were delayed or cancelled at Vancouver and Victoria airports Monday after two snow storms rolled in over the weekend. (CBC)

A spokesperson for Vancouver International Airport said snow removal operations were in full effect Monday morning and the airport was fully staffed and equipped to handle the winter weather, but dozens of flights were delayed.

Some flight cancellations and delays are reportedly due to poor conditions at other airports.

The airport authority said that if temperatures stay cold, many more delays and cancellations could be expected.

Power outages, school closures

Snow continued to fall across much of the South Coast Monday, with accumulations varying greatly depending on location and elevation.

While some sea-level areas have seen almost no snow stick over the weekend, parts of Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley have accumulated up to 30 centimetres.

Heavy snow overnight across parts of Vancouver Island forced a number of school closures.

Poor weather conditions also contributed to a number of power outages.

BC Hydro spokeswoman SimiHeer said thousands of customers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley lost power Sunday night, including 4,300 in Surrey, 3,100 in White Rock, 4,100 in Maple Ridge, 12,000 in North Vancouver and 2,000 in Burnaby.

As of 11 a.m. PT Monday, around 1,800 customers were still without power in the Lower Mainland — with the vast majority located in West Vancouver.

Heavy snowfall from two storms that rolled in over the weekend created traffic headaches on B.C.'s South Coast Monday. (CBC)

Lights were out across much of southern and eastern Vancouver Island as well, with as many as 18,000 BC Hydro customers affected by power outages Monday morning.

BC Hydro expects most lights to be back on before 4 p.m. PT on Monday, but warns there could be more power outages.

"Today, for the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, there is a risk of tree branches, weighed by heavy snow, coming down on power lines and causing more outages," Heer said in a written statement.

Snowfall warnings in effect

Snowfall warnings are still in place for the east side of Vancouver Island, the Southern Gulf Islands, Greater Victoria, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

At 8:30 a.m. PT Monday, Environment Canada was predicting anywhere from five to 10 more centimetres of snow for the mainland, while eastern Vancouver Island is likely to get between 10 and 15 more centimetres of snow.

The continuing snow dump is the result of two weather systems, the first of which slid in from Haida Gwaii Saturday morning and then hung around until Sunday.

The second system, which moved in late Sunday night, coupled with cold easterly winds blowing across the Fraser Valley to make even more snow today.

The CBC's Johanna Wagstaffe said the paired snowstorms are a unique situation that none of the weather models saw coming Friday.

"This was a wild pair of storms to forecast," she said. "I think this is one meteorologists will be talking about for some time."

The snow days will come to an end soon, however, as mild Pacific air is expected to turn the snowfall to rainfall in most areas starting late Monday afternoon.

Gallery: Snow days descend on South Coast

Unofficial snowfall totals for Monday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m. PT

  • Burnaby (SFU): 20 cm
  • Campbell River: 33 cm
  • New Westminster  25 cm
  • Port Alberni: 11 cm
  • Horseshoe Bay: 27 cm
  • Whatcom (Fraser Valley): 17 cm​
  • Cloverdale: 15 cm
  • North Vancouver: 25-35 cm
  • East Vancouver Island: 20-40 cm
  • South Vancouver Island: 15-30 cm
  • Surrey: 15-20 cm

Official snowfall totals for past 36 hours:

  • Victoria International Airport (YYJ): 15 cm
  • Comox: 16 cm
  • Nanaimo: 34 cm 
  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR): 4 cm
  • Downtown Vancouver: 0 cm

Source: Environment Canada weather summaries

With files from the CBC's Johanna Wagstaffe, Stephen Smart and Jesara Sinclair