Highway 99 collision cleared after Friday night snowfall

Many parts of the region are under a snowfall warning.

Traffic is now moving on the Sea to Sky Highway between Squamish and Whistler

Traffic backs up near the Culliton Creek Bridge north of Squamish after an accident closed the Sea to Sky highway between Squamish and Whistler late Friday night. (DriveBC)

Snow blanketed the South Coast Friday, creating problems on roads across the region and prompting several universities to cancel classes for the afternoon.

Flurries started in Metro Vancouver, Whistler and the Fraser Valley, as well as on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island shortly before 9 a.m. and piled up quickly.

Sea to Sky Highway reopens after collision

During the evening rush hour, a collision at Culliton Creek Bridge and Highway 99 closed the Sea to Sky between Squamish and Whistler.

Lanes were blocked and detours were not available, but the road fully reopened after 11 p.m. Friday.

Snowfall warnings are in effect for:

  • Metro Vancouver
  • Howe Sound (Sea to Sky)
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Fraser Valley
Snowfall hit much of the Lower Mainland on Friday, blanketing the region in white. 0:44

Snowfall amounts will vary, with up to 20 centimetres expected at higher elevations.

DriveBC reported dozens of problems on Metro Vancouver roads throughout the day but blocked lanes on Highway 1 and 91 have been cleared for the evening commute as the snow turns to flurries in several areas in the region.

Delays due to congestion can be expected on major routes.

Heavy snow continued to fall through the afternoon around the Lower Mainland as seen is this photo from Port Moody taken by a local resident around 4: 30 p.m. on Friday. (Dianne Ackerman)

Public Transit delays

Conditions on the roads have caused bus routes to shut down at higher elevations including North and West Vancouver, and service is limited in the area of SFU and Burnaby Mountain.

TransLink says trains are running with minimal delays with proactive measures being taken such as de-icer spray on SkyTrain lines and heat tracing on the Canada Line rails to keep the tracks free of ice and snow build up.

The SeaBus and West Coast Express trains are also operating regularly.

TransLink media spokesperson Chris Bryan said staff will be on the Millennium and Expo Line trains to assist riders and watch for track intrusions triggered by heavy snow or ice falling on the rails.

HandiDART is operating at a limited capacity with essential service only for customers with renal dialysis or cancer treatment appointments.

Forecast

Environment Canada meteorologist Cindy Yu said "there will be delays [on the road] no matter what."

"Our temperatures are fluctuating around the freezing mark so the roads will be slippery," she added.

Yu said there will be a break from the snow Friday evening, but it will pick up again overnight.

"If you do shovel this evening, don't be surprised to wake up to more snow especially if you are slightly more inland," Yu said.

Drivers are being warned to expect delays and slow down.

Vancouver International Airport is seeing "significant" weather conditions with a number of delays and cancellations. Passengers are being told to check flight information before they leave home.

School closures

School District No. 46 (Sunshine Coast) said all public schools in the area would be closed Friday.

Several school districts were already closed Friday for Pro-D days, including: 

  • Abbotsford
  • Chilliwack
  • Coquitlam
  • Delta
  • Langley
  • New Westminster
  • North Vancouver
  • Richmond

Vancouver Community College, Simon Fraser University, Douglas College, Emily Carr University and BCIT have also cancelled classes for Friday afternoon.

Vancouver preparations

The City of Vancouver says crews had been brining and salting many streets all week in preparation for the weather weather. 

Taryn Scollard, the city's director of streets, said "all available trucks" were clearing the roads by 1 p.m.

"We also pull crews from other departments, such as water and sewer construction crews, to help support salting and snow removal and sidewalks and bus stops," she said.

Traffic in Richmond was inching along in the snow Friday morning. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

The city said warming shelters at Britannia, West End and Carnegie community centres will remain open through the weekend.

Give salt trucks space: city

Other municipalities across the region were also bracing for the snow. In Surrey, all of the city's 62 snow plows and trucks were on the road by sunrise.

"We hit the whole city," said Ray Kerr, Surrey's engineering manager. "If we find one part of the city gets more snow than the other, we move our resources accordingly."

City of Vancouver staff prepare snow plows overnight when there's snow in the forecast. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Kerr called on drivers to give plows space they need to keep roads clear.

"I think the biggest challenge the plow drivers have is that drivers of vehicles around them don't give them enough room to do the work they have to do ... vehicles tend to forget how much room they need."

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