British Columbia

Winter storm on South Coast picks up late Wednesday bringing snow, freezing rain

The snow expected to hit the B.C. South Coast Wednesday afternoon has begun, with high winds and freezing rain also in the forecast.

Snowfall began in the afternoon, but more intense precipitation came later at night

Snow falls on Shaughnessy Street in Port Coquitlam. (Mike Clarke/CBC)

Between snow, freezing rain and ice pellets, the winter storm that hit B.C.'s South Coast Wednesday had a little bit of everything.

Snow and other precipitation started in the early afternoon, then eased, only to pick up once again later in the evening.

Commuters crawled along Highway 1 in Burnaby as early as 3 p.m. PT, as motorists hit the road earlier than usual to beat the weather.

At Simon Fraser University, long lines of students waited a half hour or more for the bus, after the university announced at 1:30 p.m. it was one of at least 11 post-secondary schools canceling classes due to the storm.

Don't drive says minister

B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone pleaded with drivers to stay out of their cars and use alternate transportation or work from home, if possible.

"My plea to the folks of the Lower Mainland would be this: if you don't need to drive over the next few days, please don't," said Stone.

The storm arriving Wednesday on the B.C. South Coast is expected to bring snow, high winds and freezing rain. (CBC)

Travel advisories remain in place as of Wednesday night for a number of highways, including the Coquihalla and Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon, due to the prospect of heavy snowfall and freezing rain.

TransLink reported at approximately 10:30 p.m that weather conditions had caused a train issue on the Canada Line between Bridgeport and YVR-Airport stations, disrupting service. A bus bridge has been set up, serving all stations between Bridgeport and YVR-Airport.

Bus, SkyTrain and West Coast Express services all operated normally while Handy Dart was reduced to carrying out essential services only.

Snow is expected to turn to freezing rain, then heavy rain overnight as temperatures rise, according to Environment Canada.

Significant rain falling on significant buildups of snow also raises the possibility of localized flooding.

By late Wednesday, BC Hydro reported almost no power outages in the Lower Mainland, but on Vancouver Island, over 10,000 customers were without power. Many of those outages were on the Saanich Peninsula and in the Shawnigan Lake area.

Vancouver International Airport reported some delayed flights as well as some cancellations.

After Wednesday saw some school cancellations, Lower Mainland school districts said they would be announcing by 7 a.m. at the latest whether classes would be cancelled on Thursday. Those announcements will come from either social media accounts or through the media.

Post-secondary schools are also advising students and staff to check online to see if classes will be scheduled.

With files from Lisa Johnson, Tim Weekes and Liam Britten