WATCH: A heavy snowfall has virtually shut down some communities in central B.C. RCMP are imploring people to stay off the roads and stay home. John Hua has dramatic pictures and how the region is coping Friday evening.
VANCOUVER – The northern British Columbia communities of Kitimat and Terrace are buried in nearly two metres of snow after the region’s worst blizzard of the decade.
Over 117 centimetres of snow fell in Kitimat over a 24-hour period and over 94 centimetres fell in Terrace, putting both communities in near emergency conditions as officials warned everyone to stay home unless absolutely necessary.
Schools and businesses were closed and the Skeena Mall in Terrace was also shut down. Thousands are without power in both communities.
READ MORE: The snowstorm in the North Coast meant was matched by a rainstorm along the Sea to Sky highway
In Kitimat, the town is being helped by private contractors to help with snow clearing, while only main roads are being cleared in Terrace for the time being. Both communities are hoping weather forecasts showing the snow tapering off by Saturday morning come true, which would allow overnight crews to speed up their work.
Large parts of both towns were without power Friday night, with BC Hydro hoping to have it restored by Saturday afternoon. The northern B.C. town of Stewart is also without power due to a transmission circuit failure.
WATCH: Tyler Noble from the District of Kitimat updates Global News on how the community is coping with the record snowfall
RCMP in Terrace say road clearing crews have been stretched to their limits. Residents are asked not to park on the streets and to stay clear of plow trucks and sanding crews.
The District of Kitimat is also asking for the public’s patience as clearing crews work to keep up with the winter storm. Residents are asked not to drive, but if you must, a 4×4 with adequate clearance is strongly recommended. Vehicles should not be parked on the roads and residents should stay away from the roads when plows and snow blowers are out.
“We have all available manpower out tackling this storm,” said Kitimat public works operations manager Brian Krause. “Our employees are doing the best they can and we ask all Kitimatians to bear with us as the snow continues to fall.”
PHOTOS: Huge snowfall in Kitimat:
PHOTOS: Huge snowfall in Terrace:
The storm hasn’t caused any injuries, but has caused heartbreak for some students of Kitimat’s Mount Elizabeth Secondary School. The band program had been fundraising for two years for a trip to Vancouver this weekend – but only one of the two flights was able to make it out before the storm hit.
“We’ll just cool our heels on this end, carry on as best we can without the other members of the band,” says Nancy-Jane Harness, one of the parents on the first flight.
Meanwhile Environment Canada issued a rainfall warning for Howe Sound, with between 30 to 50 millimetres of rain expected to drench the south coast tonight.
A freezing rain warning remains in effect for Prince George, where drivers are being warned that roads are expected to be slippery and dangerous.
To get real-time weather for your area, download the Global News Skytracker weather app.
WATCH: From cars in ditches, dogs struggling through snow banks and transformers exploding…our Global BC viewers show us what’s happening in their community.
-with files from Canadian Press
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