British Columbia·Video

Snowfall warning ends in Metro Vancouver

Up to 10 cm of snow still expected to hit the Fraser Valley, Howe Sound and Whistler.

Warnings remain for Fraser Valley, Howe Sound and Whistler with expected accumulations of 5 to 10 cm

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration captured this satellite image of the winter storm that brought snow and bitter cold to B.C. on Jan. 15, 2020. (NOAA)

A powerful wind and snowstorm that knocked out power in many regions across B.C.'s South Coast overnight faded Thursday, leaving thousands of people in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island in the dark. 

A fresh snowfall warning calling for up to 10 more centimetres of snow remains in place for the Fraser Valley, Howe Sound and Whistler, although conditions in those regions are expected to improve into the evening and overnight.

The region is still digging out after a bitter, windy snowstorm on Wednesday. Gusts up to 90 km/h howled through the snowed-in South Coast late in the day, peaking at hurricane force, 135-km/h blasts in Howe Sound.

Approximately 3,000 customers remain without power, down from 30,000 earlier in the day after the downed trees and branches fell onto power lines. 

Wind warnings were lifted across the South Coast, aside from the Sunshine Coast, on Thursday morning — but the weather agency warned "bursts of snow" were still possible.

'Worst of the winds has finished'

Forecasters said the low pressure bubble responsible for Wednesday's wintry storm pulled off the mainland early Thursday but stubbornly held over north Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

"The worst of the winds has finished, at least for Metro Vancouver, but still very strong winds in the northern part of Georgia Strait affecting Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast," said Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Erven.

Watch high winds blasting the docks in Gibsons, B.C., on Wednesday:

Wind lashes Gibsons, B.C., waterfront

2 years ago
0:21
A beached boat scrapes against a dock in Gibsons, B.C., amid a vicious windstorm. 0:21

Due to persistent wind, BC Ferries cancelled two round-trip sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay on Thursday morning. In Vancouver, a portion of the Stanley Park seawall was closed due to falling ice.

Erven added winds in Howe Sound have lessened "significantly," down to about 60 km/h.

The weather agency has warned the South Coast is still in the midst of a series of winter storms that have so far dumped up to 40 centimetres of snow in some areas in a matter of days, closing schools and universities across regions and fouling the roads to the point where the provincial government asked motorists to stay home.

A woman walks through snow in Vancouver on Thursday. Winter storms this week have left up to 20 centimetres of fresh snow on the ground across the city. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Many roads were still thick with snow and ice Thursday. The Ministry of Transportation considered shutting down major bridges and highways as a precautionary safety measure Thursday, but later said closures were "fortunately" not necessary.

Erven said the South Coast will see more "mixed" weather Thursday as temperatures creep back up above freezing point. With the mercury bobbing around that mark, snow could be mixed with rain, with the possibility of freezing rain.

The meteorologist added Metro Vancouver could see full-blown rain by the afternoon.

An owner and her dog watch as people push an Aston Martin Vanquish sports car, worth more than $300,000, down a snowy street in Vancouver on Thursday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

School closures

The following school districts, primarily in the Fraser Valley and eastern Vancouver Island, announced closures on Thursday:

  • Chilliwack (SD33)
  • Fraser Cascades SD78)
  • Mission (SD75)
  • Campbell River (SD72)
  • Comox Valley (SD71)
  • Cowichan Valley (SD79)
  • Nanaimo-Ladysmith (SD68)
  • Sunshine Coast (SD46)
  • Qualicum (SD69)

The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) has also closed for the day.

A pair waits to cross the street with their skis during morning commute in Vancouver on Thursday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

All public schools and post-secondary institutions from the eastern Fraser Valley to Victoria and Nanaimo cancelled classes Wednesday, after the storm dumped at least 25 centimetres of snow in many areas.

The City of Vancouver said 40 to 50 snow removal trucks will be out Thursday to clear major routes. The city is also bracing for potential freezing rain.

A man clears snow from his car during the morning commute in Vancouver on Thursday. Drivers are reminded to use caution, slow down and ensure their cars are equipped with winter tires. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Forecasters said Friday will shift away from snow. Up to 70 millimetres of rain are in the forecast for the South Coast.

People cross the road during the morning commute in Vancouver on Jan. 16, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rhianna Schmunk is a staff writer for CBC News. She is based in Vancouver with a focus on justice and the courts. You can reach her on Twitter @rhiannaschmunk or by email at rhianna.schmunk@cbc.ca.

With files from Yvette Brend

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