Information Bulletin from the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness: Essential travel only advised due to snow, freezing rain throughout B.C.

VICTORIA, BC – With snow and freezing rain in the forecast, which may cause dangerous road conditions, travel advisories are in place for many areas of B.C., including the Fraser Valley and mid- and south Vancouver Island from Thursday, Dec. 22 until Saturday, Dec. 24. People should also be prepared for potential power outages.

 

Environment and Climate Change Canada forecasts temperatures will gradually increase in parts of the province, however, snow, freezing rain and rain for coastal B.C. and the Interior are forecast. Freezing rain is expected, which could significantly impact road and sidewalk conditions, as well as ice buildup on trees, causing branches to break.

 

Widespread snow is expected for Friday, beginning on the coast and moving inland through the day, with freezing levels and temperatures rising along the coast. Extreme cold, arctic outflow, snowfall and winter storm warnings are in effect for most of British Columbia.

 

Traffic advisories have been issued for the Lower Mainland, southern Interior, and southern Vancouver Island. Drivers should avoid travel unless necessary from late Thursday evening into Saturday. BC Ferries has also issued travel advisories.

 

The ministry may close highways with limited notice in the interest of safety. If drivers must travel, ensure the vehicle is equipped for winter conditions with winter tires, and pack warm winter clothing in preparation for the potential of lengthy delays.

 

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s maintenance contractors are out in full force and will be adjusting operations as the system rapidly warms from snow to freezing rain to rain. Challenging winter driving conditions are expected to persist even with ongoing plowing, sanding and salting. It is important for drivers to keep their distance as sand is applied and to not pass winter-maintenance equipment.

 

The Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR) has hosted co-ordination calls for First Nations and local authority emergency-management partners. Environment and Climate Change Canada and the River Forecast Centre provided updates to give communities as much information as possible to prepare for the change in weather.

 

Potential power outages

 

Severe weather can cause power outages. Be prepared for as long as a week by developing a household emergency plan and putting together an emergency kit. If you encounter a downed or damaged power line, assume it is live and a danger. Stay back at least 10 metres (the length of a bus) and call 911 immediately.

 

Freezing rain will add weight to the snow and cause trees and branches to come into contact with BC Hydro’s electrical equipment. This could result in significant outages, particularly in the Fraser Valley and the mid-Island. BC Hydro is taking all the necessary steps to ensure it can respond as quickly and safely as possible if that does happen. They have all hands on deck, including BC Hydro crews, contractor crews, vegetation management crews and many others to support in response.

 

Flood preparation

 

At this time, no major flood event is forecast, but flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Issues with drainage are expected on Vancouver Island, as well as water pooling from snow and other precipitation. Other regions may also experience some drainage issues. People are encouraged to clear rain gutters and drains.

 

EMCR is working closely with the River Forecast Centre on any potential flooding caused by snowmelt and rain forecast after the freezing rain this weekend.

 

EMCR has pre-positioned sandbags; gabions, which are wall-like structures filled with sand; and tiger dams, which are stackable orange tubes filled with water, on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and in the Fraser Valley to assist any First Nations or local authorities.

 

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Contact:

Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness
Media Relations
250 880-6430