British Columbia

Schools closed, power lines down as B.C.'s South Coast hit with freezing rain

A winter storm on B.C.'s South Coast Thursday is causing treacherous road conditions throughout the Lower Mainland and on southern Vancouver Island.

Freezing rain overnight made for treacherous Thursday morning roads

Freezing rain has covered Fraser Valley roads in ice, bringing down trees and power lines in the process. (Kevin Sumner)

A storm on B.C.'s South Coast Thursday is causing treacherous road conditions throughout the Lower Mainland and on southern Vancouver Island.

The Port Mann Bridge was temporarily closed for de-icing but has since reopened. 

In Metro Vancouver, Environment Canada has changed what began as a winter storm warning to a rainfall warning, with up to 20 millimetres of rain expected today.

Environment Canada is also calling for up to 50 millimetres of rain in Squamish, and as much as 40 centimetres of snow north toward Whistler.

What started as heavy snowfall Wednesday evening turned into freezing rain overnight in many parts of the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, making for a messy Thursday morning. (GP Mendoza)

In the Lower Mainland, where temperatures are warmer, pooling water is starting to become an issue.

Robert Costanzo, Surrey's manager of engineering operations, said there are at least six locations throughout the city with up to six inches of water on major roads.

"It's really a race to clear out catch basins and areas where we have any packed snow or ice," Costanzo said.

Freezing rain left many snowy Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley roads covered in a layer of ice. (GP Mendoza/CBC)

Icy roads in the Fraser Valley

In the Fraser Valley, freezing rain made already slippery roads even worse.

In the Sumas Flats area of Abbotsford, single lane roads were covered in ice after the overnight storm.

Abbotsford Police issued a warning to drivers late Wednesday night of a number of road closures in this area.

Drive BC is cautioning drivers against travelling along Highway 1 between Hope and Langley today due to freezing rain.

Drive BC is also warning of poor driving conditions on Vancouver Island, reporting pooling water on the Trans-Canada Highway and snow-covered highways north of Duncan.

Transit issues

SkyTrain service on the Canada Line to YVR was disrupted this morning, but TransLink says full service has resumed to the airport. 

All bus service is suspended in Chilliwack, Mission and Agassiz-Harrison, according to BC Transit.

Power outages

BC Hydro is reporting about 15,000 customers on Vancouver Island are without power because of the snow and freezing rain.

More than 30,000 customers have been affected by power outages in the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast.

School closures

In the Lower Mainland, the following school districts announced early Thursday morning that all their schools will be closed due to the hazardous road conditions:

  • Surrey. 
  • Chilliwack. 
  • Mission.
  • Langley.
  • Abbotsford.
  • Fraser Cascades. 

On Vancouver Island, schools are closed in:

  • Comox Valley.
  • Cowichan Valley.
  • Alberni Valley.
  • Qualicum. 
  • Campbell River.
  • The Gulf Islands.

It's the fourth consecutive snow day for many of these districts.

Many post-secondary schools are also closed:

  • The University of the Fraser Valley. 
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
  • Douglas College.
  • Trinity Western University has cancelled morning classes.

The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University remain open.

With files from GP Mendoza and CBC Radio One's The Early Edition.

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