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Delays and closures as Metro Vancouver faces season’s first major snowfall

Simon Little / CKNW

Winter has arrived in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, with snowfall warnings in place for much of Tuesday, and significant amounts of the white stuff piling up.

Between 10 and 15 centimetres of snow are forecast to fall on Tuesday in both regions, with up to 20 centimetres possible at higher elevations.

READ MORE: Snowfall warnings for B.C. as storm moves in: drivers warned about highway travel

Transit troubles

By early afternoon, snow buildup was causing headaches for commuters across the Lower Mainland.

TransLink reported significant delays with buses on dozens of routes. Areas significantly affected included UBC, the southern parts of Vancouver and Burnaby, as well as Burnaby Mountain.

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On that last route, crews installed new so-called “tire socks” intended to help buses handle steeper grades in the snow.

WATCH: Translink preps for snow and ice (Nov. 2)

Click to play video: 'Translink preps for snow and ice' Translink preps for snow and ice
Translink preps for snow and ice – Nov 2, 2017

Buses operating the north-south routes on Lonsdale in North Vancouver were also impacted, limiting access to the LonsdaleQuay SeaBus terminal.

READ MORE: Crews work to prevent commuter chaos as winter weather blows in

SkyTrain service was running normally, and crews activated TransLink’s de-icer train to prevent ice build-up and keep trains running reliably.

You can see an updated list of transit delays here.

Riders are reminded to dress warmly and plan for delays.

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Conditions for drivers are challenging across the region, however there have been no major reported problems on the Alex Fraser or Port Mann bridge.

Traffic on the Lions Gate bridge was reduced to one lane in each direction due to winter weather.

Airport delays

Travellers on transit weren’t the only ones impacted by the snow.

The YVR airport reported that heavy snow began falling at 9 a.m., prompting the activation of snow clearing and de-icing crews.

READ MORE: Snowstorm on Vancouver Island leaves thousands without power

However, the weather has led to multiple delays and several flight cancellations.

You can see flight status updates in real-time here.

WATCH: Vancouver snow December 19

Click to play video: 'Vancouver snow December 19' Vancouver snow December 19
Vancouver snow December 19 – Dec 19, 2017

YVR is also asking travellers to give themselves lots of time to get to the airport, and not take chances on the road.

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Shortly after 1:30 p.m., Harbour Air also cancelled all flights due to weather conditions.

School closures

The snowy weather has prompted several schools to close early or scale back operations.

Simon Fraser University cancelled all classes for the remainder of the day as of 1 p.m., and asked non-essential staff and students to leave Burnaby Mountain.

READ MORE: Coquihalla Highway closed southbound between Merritt and Hope

SFU’s downtown campus remains open as usual.

The University of British Columbia also cancelled its 3:30 p.m. exams at the Point Grey campus, however 7 p.m. exams will proceed as scheduled.

Several private schools also cancelled classes on Tuesday, including Vancouver’s Little Flower Academy and Notre Dame Regional Secondary.

City response

The City of Vancouver said Tuesday that it had adapted its snow response based on “lessons learned” from last year’s particularly nasty winter.

The city upped its snow response funding this year, spending more than $4 million on new equipment and nearly doubling its annual snow clearing budget to $1.62 million.

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READ MORE: PHOTOS: Vancouver receives its first snowfall of the season

It said it has expanded coverage of snow clearing operations to include pedestrian pathways, bus stops and priority laneways for trash collection.

MAP: City of Vancouver snow removal routes

City crews are clearing snow according to a three-tier priority route schedule, with priority one routes to be cleared within 12 hours, priority two routes cleared within 48 hours, and priority three routes cleared within one week.

Major arteries, bus routes and select bike routes are considered priority one routes.

The city said it has also increased its salt capacity and expanded the number of vehicles in its fleet capable of operating in all conditions.

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Vancouver has also activated warming centres at the Britannia, Carnegie and West End community centres.

The City of Surrey said it has 40 trucks dedicated to snow clearing, and has stockpiled 15,000 tonnes of salt.

A city spokesperson said crews will be working around the clock, and that Surrey is also prioritizing major routes.

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