British Columbia

Heavy snow, high winds hit Vancouver Island with potential for more snowfall Friday

Up to 25 centimetres of snow fell on parts of Vancouver Island overnight and winds topped 100 km/h, making travel dangerous and prompting closures of some schools Wednesday.

Environment Canada says there is potential for more wind, snow on the island Friday 

Enough snow fell on parts of Vancouver Island to prompt school closures in some areas Wednesday morning. (CHEK News)

Winter arrived on Vancouver Island on Tuesday, with snowfall and high winds causing power outages and closing schools Wednesday. 

Parts of Courtenay received about 25 centimetres of snow overnight, according to Environment Canada, while Campbell River saw about 21 centimetres. 

Winds of up to 103 km/h hit parts of the Island, the weather agency said.

In a special weather statement, Environment Canada said some of Tuesday's snowfall would melt amid higher temperatures on Wednesday. Temperatures will then drop Wednesday night, and "untreated road surfaces and sidewalks could become icy overnight," which could affect Thursday's commute. 

The weather also says there is potential for more wind and snow on the island Friday. 

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Nearly 10,000 people were without power on Vancouver Island as of Wednesday morning, the majority in the north. As of 8 p.m., fewer than 100 customers were without power, according to B.C. Hydro. 

Schools in the Comox Valley, Nanaimo-Ladysmith, Campbell River, Tofino-Ucluelet and North Island school districts were closed Wednesday as snow and wind made for unsafe driving conditions. 

Vancouver Island University's Nanaimo campus and North Island College were also closed for the day.

A sunrise over a snow covered field
Snow blanketed much of northern Vancouver Island overnight, including Nanaimo, B.C. (Tori Sobkowicz)

Sharon Charette, who owns a coffee shop in Gold River in the central Island, said her power was out overnight but had been restored Wednesday morning. She estimated about 30 centimetres of snow fell in the area. 

"It's beautiful. Winter wonderland," she told On The Island host Gregor Craigie.

Road conditions

But while snow may be beautiful, it also creates hazardous driving conditions. 

Chris Cowley, who manages Mainroad North Island Contracting, which maintains the roads in the north, said they were well prepared for the snow but it fell hard and fast. 

"It was a lot to to clear off the roads," he said.

Cowley said that people on Vancouver Island aren't necessarily used to winter driving, and advises drivers to take it slow and steady, and never pass a plow truck.

Michelle Mahovlich, director of engineering and public works for the City of Langford, said several cars were abandoned overnight on the southern part of the Island. A lot of the problems, she said, came from people who did not have appropriate tires on their vehicles. 

Winter tires are required on most highways in B.C. from Oct. 1 to April 30 — including the Malahat Highway northwest of Victoria, which has signage posted reminding drivers of the requirement.

"It's also mandatory on the higher altitudes here in Langford," Mahovlich said, noting the Bear Mountain parkways on Mill Hill and on Walford Road.

With files from On The Island


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