We may be in the eye of the storm as more snow, freezing rain and winter conditions approach Vancouver Island once again.
Environment Canada is calling for snow with a risk of freezing rain lasting from Friday to Sunday (Christmas Day) in BC’s interior.
Southern Vancouver Island has a similar forecast with more snow and conditions leading to freezing rain predicted from Friday to Saturday (Christmas Eve).
The weather system that will cause a winter calamity so close to Christmas will begin in the interior, sweeping through the mountain ranges and making their way through the province to the coastal fjords and out to Vancouver Island.
“I strongly encourage everyone in these areas to travel only if necessary,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness.
As of Thursday afternoon, road conditions in Victoria continue to be dangerous due to heavy snow and icy conditions. Highways look to be mostly clear and Victorians can find a summarized list with updated images of highway conditions via Victoria Buzz’s current road conditions article.
Significant freezing rain is being predicted and will cause icy road conditions all through the province.
According to the province, highway maintenance workers will be working 24/7 through the rest of the week in an attempt to keep up with the weather system by plowing, sanding and salting.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure may opt to close some highways proactively in the interest of public safety.
“Travellers should expect rapidly deteriorating conditions, consider changing travel plans and be prepared for closures on short notice,” said BC’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Rob Fleming in a media statement.
“People who choose to travel should ensure they are well-prepared for the weather and the possibility of short-notice closures, ensure vehicles are fuelled up and charged, and have extra water, food and necessary medications.”
BC’s interior is expected to have an increased risk of avalanches due to the storm and the Province may be required to close certain routes due to avalanche control.
In addition to road maintenance, BC Hydro workers will be ready and able to patch up the power grids should outages occur, which they are expected to.
“BC Hydro is also warning that freezing rain is likely to cause power outages, particularly on Vancouver ISland and in the Fraser Valley,” said Ma.
“Their crews are ready to respond as quickly as possible.”
The province says that winter tires are a must while travelling through BC throughout the next week. Drivers are encouraged to check the treads on their tires and make the best judgement call as to whether they are safe enough to travel on.
BC also requires commercial vehicles over 5,500 kgs to carry chains and anticipate that mandatory chain-ups will be in effect.
Highway 1 on the Malahat will have strictly enforced chain-up rules for commercial vehicles in effect beginning at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Meteorologists are predicting as much as 20 cm of snow in some areas overnight Thursday, with temperatures near freezing causing ice pellets. As much as 10 mms of freezing rain will arrive by Friday for a significant time before switching to rain, which will create an ice glaze on top of the snow.
Affected areas include Highway 1 over the Malahat, the Alberni summit on Highway 4, and other parts of Vancouver Island.
“To ensure compliance with provincial regulations, the ministry’s Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) staff will be checking commercial vehicles northbound on Highway 1 entering the Malahat at West Shore Parkway, and vehicles southbound on Highway 1 at Bamberton Interchange,” said Fleming.
“Vehicles not in compliance will be turned away.”
Maintenance workers will be working on highways and drivers are asked to refrain from passing slow moving equipment, such as snow plows, and follow these vehicles at a safe distance that should be posted on the rear of the vehicles.