Wintry weather expected Thursday on B.C. southern interior highways

The Coquihalla Highway. Global News

Don’t take those winter tires off your vehicle just yet if you’re planning to travel the highways between the Okanagan and the B.C. coast Thursday.

Environment Canada has issued a Special Weather Statement for the Coquihalla, Okanagan Connector and Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton.

Forecasters are calling it an “abrupt transition back to winter conditions.”

“A frontal wave will move across southern B.C. on Thursday,” the statement said. “The warm front will bring some rain and rising freezing levels Thursday morning. However, the cold front will be quite potent and arrive as early as Thursday afternoon.”

Rain is expected to fall on highways 5, 3 and 97C after midnight and change to snow by Thursday morning.

READ MORE: Coquihalla highway “well maintained” before Sunday crash, says Ministry

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Combined with blustery winds, there’s a warning for reduced visibility.

The snow, about 10 to 15 cm, is expected to accumulate quickly into Thursday evening.

On the Kootenay Pass on Highway 3, snow is forecast to begin falling on the route after midnight Thursday. Rain could fall with the snow during the warmth of the day, creating slushy and icy conditions.

READ MORE: The Coquihalla Highway’s speed limit is 120 km/h in parts. It should be 30 km/h lower: experts

Upwards of 20 cm of snow is expected on the Kootenay Pass.

“Travellers are advised to exercise caution if travelling late Thursday and to be aware of rapidly changing road conditions.”

By law in B.C., winter tires are only mandatory between October 1 and March 31, but snow often catches drivers off guard into May on the Coquihalla and Okanagan Connector.

Summer tires do not offer traction in snow or slushy road conditions.


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