Metro Vancouver's snowiest day in years causes widespread closures
Parts of Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island getting first snow of season
The Lower Mainland had its first significant snowfall since February of 2014 on Monday, with different municipalities receiving up to 12 inches of snow at various points throughout the day.
After an initial blast in the early morning, swirling Arctic air mass brought more snow to parts of the region in the mid-afternoon, before letting up around 10 p.m.
"As the centre of the low pressure system sinks south, snow will ease overnight and temperatures will drop dramatically," said CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.
And that could create treacherous conditions on the road once again Tuesday morning, she said.
"Even though skies will be clear tomorrow, roads and sidewalks may be slick tomorrow morning, feeling like –10 C in Vancouver tomorrow morning with a wind chill," Wagstaffe said.
The worst may be yet to come with more snow in the long-term forecast starting Thursday.
Snow turned commute into chaos
Early Monday morning, parts of Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island got hit with the first snowfall of the season, slowing traffic on the roads, delaying SkyTrain service and closing SFU.
It is the first significant snowfall recorded at the YVR weather station since Feb. 2014, nearly three years ago.
At noon, BC Hydro reported that about 6,000 customers were without power across the region, including parts of Langley, Abbotsford, Bowen Island, and Duncan.
Earlier in the morning, snowplows were out on the streets but stalled, stuck and abandoned vehicles were reported on many roads and hills as drivers struggled to deal with winter driving conditions.
"We have a full force out right dealing with road conditions, said Vancouver's manager of street operations Ken Brown. "We got a little bit more snow than we expected."
"Now that traffic is on the roadway, snow is being jammed into the salt and it's turning into slush."
Many buses were also delayed as they struggled to deal with difficult driving conditions, leaving frustrated riders waiting at bus stops for hours in some cases.
"Today's snowstorm continues to have a significant impact on transit service in Metro Vancouver, making travel difficult for our customers," TransLink said in a statement.
"Our buses are experiencing significant delays across the region and HandyDART is currently operating at essential service levels only."
Bus service was suspended in Belcarra, along with the C3 and C4 buses in New Westminster, and the 144 and 135 buses that serve SFU's Burnaby campus terminated at Hastings and Duthie Street for much of the day.
One bus in North Vancouver crashed into a tree near Mountain Highway and Coleman Road, but nobody was injuried.
While several highways in the Lower Mainland have slushy sections because of the snow, there were no significant delays.
SkyTrain service delayed
The snow also delayed SkyTrain service on the Millennium and Expo Lines, according to TransLink's media advisor Anne Drennan.
"Earlier in the day, there were accumulations of snow on the tracks which cause the track intrusion alarms to go off and that causes very minor delays as our [staff] have to go out and check the track to make sure everything is safe."
The delays left many trains and platforms crowded during the morning commute. The Canada Line was not affected.
Classes at SFU's Burnaby campus were cancelled after bus service was suspended because of slippery conditions on Burnaby Mountain.
"The Burnaby Campus may be opened later today depending on road conditions and Translink service being restored. We will provide students with two hours notice before we resume classes on the Burnaby Campus," said a statement on the SFU website.
If <a href="https://twitter.com/TransLink">@TransLink</a> bus service is not resumed, we are here to help and provide accommodation + meals to those at the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SFU?src=hash">#SFU</a> Burnaby campus.—@SFU
Later in the afternoon, BCIT and Vancouver Community College also announced the cancellation of their afternoon and evening classes.
Other schools also closed for the day, including:
- University Highlands in Burnaby
- Corpus Christi in Vancouver
- John Knox in Burnaby
- Our Lady of Fatima in Coquitlam
- Saint Francis of Assisi in Vancouver
The Vancouver School District had a previously scheduled non-instructional day for public schools, so students were not in school.
- Check TransLink updates
- Check Environment Canada weather updates
- Check DriveBC for highway conditions
- Learn more about winter tires
- Check flights at YVR
Vancouver International Airport is reporting minor delays for virtually all departing and arriving flights and was advising travellers to check their flight status and give themselves extra time when heading to the airport.
Conditions were worse in Seattle, where Alaska Airlines cancelled 26 flights because of the snow.