(Photo by @hxrryshaw / Instagram)

Old man winter is in a bit of a mood this week.

On Thursday, December 22nd, Victoria is subject to two more weather warnings from Environment Canada—an arctic outflow warning and a winter storm watch are both in effect for all of Greater Victoria and the Southern Gulf Islands.

Arctic outflow warning

An arctic outflow warning is when bitterly cold air flows are present that originate from the interior and make their way to coastal communities. Outflow winds create wind chill temperatures of -20 degrees or colder for more than six hours. 

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Wednesday’s arctic outflow warning was expected to end Thursday morning, but has since been extended and the warning will be in effect until the afternoon.

“Conditions are expected to improve today as temperatures rise,” said Environment Canada in a weather statement.

“If outside, dress warmly in layers and stay dry. Cover as much exposed skin as possible to avoid frostbite. Ensure that shelter is provided for pets and outdoor animals. Be prepared for unusually cold temperatures and strong winds.”

(Environment Canada)

In addition to the arctic outflow warning that has been bringing cold winds to Victoria, the region currently has a winter storm watch in effect from Thursday until Saturday (Christmas Eve).

Winter storm watch

The winter storm watch is in effect because a pacific frontal system is approaching BC’s coast and is expected to bring another round of snow to the Greater Victoria region when combined with the current arctic outflow conditions. 

Environment Canada issues storm watches when there are more than one weather pattern in the mix for the region. 

This week’s storm is expected to bring with it cold temperatures, snow and freezing rain. 

“As freezing levels rise, heavy snow will become mixed with ice pellets and then change to rain late Friday over Vancouver Island, Friday night to Saturday over the mainland,” said Environment Canada in a statement on Thursday.

“Current guidance indicates total snowfall accumulations ranging from 10 to 20 cm are expected. Local blowing snow is possible in strong easterly winds resulting in near zero visibilities.”

Environment Canada also warns that road conditions will be dangerous and driving is best avoided in the coming days. 

“Avoid travel if possible. Rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult over some locations. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery. There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas.”

Effects on Victoria services

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.

After two days of cancellations and delays, Victoria International Airport (YYJ) has had their first day of minimal impact from the winter weather conditions. 

BC Transit continues to be only offering limited service in Victoria. The roads and snow accumulation have affected most of their routes so they are only servicing the following routes as of 9 a.m. on Thursday:

  • 2 South Oak Bay/James Bay
  • 3 Royal Jubilee/James Bay – Not servicing May, routing via Fairfield in both directions.
  • 4 Downtown/UVic – Will finish/start from Government and Superior. 
  • 5 James Bay/Willows
  • 6 Downtown/Royal Oak – Not servicing Chatterton & Emily Carr, routing Royal Oak Mall.
  • 7 Downtown/Uvic
  • 10 Royal Jubilee/James Bay
  • 11 Tillicum/UVic – Not servicing Uplands, routing via Cadboro Bay in both directions.
  • 14 UVic/Vic General -Not Servicing Wharf St or Fort between Wharf and Douglas
  • 15 Esquimalt/uVic – Not Servicing Wharf St or Fort Between wharf and Douglas 
  • 21 – Not servicing Viaduct/Markham Tech Park – using Camosun College Loop, No 21N Staying on Interuban between Burnside and Wilkinson.
  • 25 Maplewood/Tillicum
  • 26 Dockyard/UVic
  • 27/28 Majestic/Gordon Head – Not servicing Ferndale/Tyndall & Blanshard Terminus, routing from Shelbourne to McKenzie, trip ending at UVic.
  • 31 Downtown/Royal Oak – Not servicing Carey, routing right on Saanich, left on Vernon to Carey.
  • 39 Interurban/UVic
  • 50 Downtown/Langford – Not servicing Langford Parkway/Phipps, routing via Kelly, Veterans Memorial, Meaford to the Langford exchange.
  • 52 Bear Mountain/Colwood – Not servicing Bear Mountain/Stornoway/Lagoon/Latoria, routing via Millstream roundabout & Cairndale in both directions. Not servicing Langford Parkway/Phipps, routing via Kelly, Veterans Memorial, Meaford.
  • 61 Downtown/Sooke – Not servicing Langford Parkway/Phipps, routing via Kelly, Veterans Memorial, Meaford to the Langford exchange.
  • 70 Downtown/Swartz Bay – Not servicing Vernon/Carey – routing via Blanshard, Saanich to Douglas Southbound only. 
  • 72 Downtown/Swartz Bay – Update: Regular route.
  • 75 Saanichton/Downtown – Not servicing Tanner Ridge, routing via Keating Cross Roads & no Benvenuto/Wallace, or Verdier Loop.
  • 81 Brentwood Bay/Swartz Bay – Not servicing Wallace/Benvenuto
  • 83 Sidney/Royal Oak – Not servicing Beaver/Quail, routing via West Saanich, to Interurban. Not servicing Benvenuto/Verdier loop.
  • 88 Sidney/Airport

Make sure to check BC Transit’s website before heading out into the cold. 

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