British Columbia

Snowfall snarls highway traffic in B.C. as hundreds still without power

Numerous Lower Mainland residents woke up without power on Saturday, as Environment Canada issued special weather statements for parts of the South Coast. Snowfall later in the day caused treacherous conditions on some highways.

Snowfall warnings were posted for regions in the southern Interior, including on mountain highways

Heavy snowfall made conditions treacherous along Highway 5A in B.C.'s Southern Interior on Saturday Dec. 11, 2021. (Government of British Columbia)

Numerous Lower Mainland residents woke up without power on Saturday, as Environment Canada issued special weather statements for parts of the South Coast.

As of 7:30 p.m. PT, many power outages in the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast had been resolved, but more than a thousand residents across the province still had no power.

Environment Canada said an impending "intense Pacific frontal system" is hitting the area in a special weather statement for the eastern and central Fraser Valley. Heavy rain is set to drench the region on Saturday, with 15 to 25 millimetres expected to fall.

It comes a day after several ferry sailings had to be cancelled because of intense winds. A special weather statement warned of gusts of up to 70 km/h for Greater Victoria and the southern Gulf Islands.

There is also set to be "long period of snowfall" on the already-storm damaged highways from the coast to the Interior, with the essential-vehicle-only Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton forecast to get 15 to 20 centimetres of snow over the next day.

On Saturday evening, two different vehicle accidents on Highway 5A, near Princeton and Aspen Grove closed the highway in both directions.

Earlier in the day, officials had warned motorists using Highway 5A and Highway 3, which run through mountain passes and have many curves, to be cautious.

Environment Canada has also issued snowfall warnings for regions in the southern Interior, as well as a snow squall watch in parts of the central Interior.

"Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve," the federal agency said. "Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow."

Be prepared

A spokesperson for B.C. Hydro said the storm conditions on Saturday were a reminder to prepare a 72-hour emergency kit at home.

It is not yet known whether the morning's outages were weather-related, but spokesperson Kevin Aquino said the public utility is prepared for impacts of a storm this weekend.

Residents closer to the ocean woke up to sunny skies Saturday, though meteorologists forecast more showers and winds gusting up to 60 kilometres an hour in Vancouver, Richmond and Surrey.

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