Snowfall warning ends in Metro Vancouver
Warnings remain for Fraser Valley, Howe Sound and Whistler with expected accumulations of 5 to 10 cm
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.
- Check Environment Canada weather alerts here
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'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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Forecasters said Friday will shift away from snow. Up to 70 millimetres of rain are in the forecast for the South Coast.
With files from Yvette Brend