British Columbia·Video

Heavy snow continues to create hazardous conditions on B.C. highways

Drivers are being warned of hazardous conditions as heavy snow continues to fall on B.C. highways.

Several weather warnings are in place throughout the province

The province is advising drivers of snowfall warnings for many of B.C.'s major highways. (B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Government of British Columbia)

Drivers are being warned of hazardous conditions as heavy snow continues to fall on B.C. highways.

Highway 97C was closed between Merritt and Kelowna Thursday afternoon following a vehicle incident, but has since re-opened. However, DriveBC is warning drivers of slippery sections along the road.

Dave Duncan, general manager for highway contractor Yellowhead Road and Bridge Nicola, said it's been a rough 18 hours, and expects the next 24 to be just as treacherous. 

"We still have some folks transitioning from their summer driving configuration to their winter driving configuration," he told Radio West host Sarah Penton Friday afternoon.

He said that while 95 per cent of drivers are well-equipped for the sudden change of weather, others are still driving too fast and not adjusting to the conditions.

Drivers are dealing with the first day of winter road conditions on interior highways as we experience our first dump of snow

Environment Canada has issued snowfall or winter storm warnings for several parts of the Interior and north, including Highway 1 from Eagle Pass to Rogers Pass, Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton, Highway 5 from Hope to Kamloops and Highway 97C from Merritt to Kelowna.

Snowfall warnings are also up for areas including the Okanagan, B.C. Peace River, Kinbasket as well as sections of the Sea-to-Sky, Coquihalla and Yellowhead highways and higher elevations of highways 1, 3, and 97.

Accumulations of up to 25 centimetres were expected on some of those routes before the snow was forecast to turn to rain. 

"Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions," Environment Canada advised in weather warnings posted for B.C.'s high mountain passes. "Rapidly accumulating snow will make travel difficult."

The province says highway maintenance contractors are out in "full force" to try to keep roads safe but are urging people to drive to the conditions and ensure they have proper tires and equipment to handle the roads.

Drought levels scaled back as rain hits coast, Vancouver Island

Drought levels across southern British Columbia have been scaled back for the first time in weeks as a series of powerful storms have drenched the region, including one Friday due to deliver as much as 70 millimetres of rain before easing by nightfall.

The province's online drought map shows most of southern B.C., including east Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver, is now ranked at drought Level 3, which means adverse drought impacts are possible.

That's a drop from the most severe Level 5 rating, which covered much of the Island and inner South Coast until this week.

A Level 5 rating, which means adverse drought effects are almost certain, is still in effect in the northeast corner of the province and in the Kettle River region of southern B.C., while the Sunshine Coast, Nicola, Coldwater, Parsnip and Finlay basins are ranked at Level 4.

Watch | CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe explains atmospheric rivers:

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It's a term that became more widely known after record-setting flooding hit B.C. in November 2021, but as meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe explains, atmospheric rivers are not new to the province.

As drought conditions ease, a high streamflow advisory is now posted for waterways across Vancouver Island and the central and south coasts as the River Forecast Centre says rivers, especially on the South Coast, are expected to rise through the day. 

There's also concern that heavy snow at high elevations will melt as the latest storm passes and temperatures climb, swelling some streams and rivers even further. 

Snowy conditions are expected to continue in Kelowna through Friday, along with other parts of B.C.'s Interior and north. (Winston Szeto/CBC)

Residents of northeast B.C. asked to scale back water use as drought continues

Despite the moisture in many parts of the province, people living in the northeast are being asked to voluntarily scale back their water use as rain levels in the region remain below normal.

B.C.'s Ministry of Forests says a hotter and drier summer and fall, followed directly by snow, means streams and aquifers will likely remain below normal levels as temperatures drop.

All oil and gas companies in the region have been ordered to suspend all previously approved water usage and the province warns that if conditions worsen, temporary protection orders may be needed in order to avoid irreversible harm to local ecosystems.

With files from the Canadian Press