February 6, 2015 3:18 pm
Updated: August 6, 2016 2:10 pm

PHOTOS: Terrace and Kitimat hit by huge snowfall

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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.

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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.

Safety Tips:

  1. SLOW DOWN AND KEEP WELL BACK from snow clearing equipment. The recommended distance is a minimum of 15 metres (approximately 3 car lengths) to leave plenty of room for the equipment to work.
  2. STAY BACK FROM SPREADER TRUCKS. When a sand spreader truck is applying salt or sand to the road surface, slow down and stay away from the spreader truck to prevent your vehicle from possibly being hit with salt or sand.
  3. BE VISIBLE and keep headlights on at all times when travelling. These machines may cause snow clouds that reduce visibility.
  4. BE PREPARED TO STOP. Snow clearing equipment moves at much slower speeds than other vehicles, and operators also stop frequently to assess the areas they are clearing. Freshly ploughed streets can also be slippery until sand/salt trucks have applied the appropriate material.
  5. DO NOT PASS ON THE RIGHT hand side of the equipment. Often snow and debris are plowed to the right and pose a hazard to motorists.
  6. BE CAUTIOUS when approaching snow clearing equipment from behind. These machines often make several passes over the same area, which requires travelling in reverse. Vehicles travelling too close are at risk of damage or collision with the machinery.
  7. MAKE EYE CONTACT. If you are unsure of what a piece of equipment is about to do, wait and make eye contact with the operator – they may finish the task, or if safe to do so, they may stop and wave you through before continuing their work.
  8. AVOID DRIVING THROUGH WINDROWS. These machines often make several passes to clear a roadway. If you drive through a windrow, you may risk getting stuck in the snow and ice, possibly damaging your vehicle, or you may scatter the snow, creating a hazard for other motorists.

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

© 2015 Shaw Media

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