February 10, 2019 2:59 pm
Updated: February 11, 2019 2:36 pm

Malahat reopens, transit troubles as snow blankets B.C.’s South Coast

WATCH: Snow was falling on the South Coast Sunday, triggering traffic and transit headaches and as Tanya Beja reports from Burnaby, another storm is on the way.

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The Lower Mainland remains locked under a persistent band of icy air, with temperatures dipping to -4 C, and snow has begun to accumulate in communities across the region.

Snowfall warnings are in place for Metro Vancouver, Victoria, the Malahat Highway and eastern reaches of the island from Nanaimo to Duncan.

READ MORE: Ferries cancelled, tens of thousands without power as frigid windstorm slams South Coast

Global BC Meteorologist Yvonne Schalle said the highest amounts of snow will accumulate on southern and eastern Vancouver Island, topping out at 15 centimetres, but that some areas on the Lower Mainland could see as much as 10 centimetres pile up.

“The harder hit areas are actually the southern sections, anywhere from White Rock, Tsawwassen, Delta and Richmond for example is where we’ll see higher amounts,” she said.

Residents of Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo have reported heavy snow accumulations, and the snow was also sticking in the Gulf Islands and across Metro Vancouver.

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Schalle said on the mainland, the snow should ease off by midnight, though it could continue overnight on the island.

What’s more Sunday’s snow might not be the last of it; Schalle said another storm system could roll in Monday.

“We actually have another system that’s going to push in [Monday] night and into Tuesday morning, which would be more a concern for the morning commute. So it could be five centimetres Monday night and another five centimetres through the morning hour.”

On the roads

The Malahat Highway was closed Sunday evening between West Shore Parkway in Langford and Shawnigan-Mill Bay Road due to heavy snowfall, with the Ministry of Transportation reporting numerous stuck vehicles.

“If you don’t have to drive, DO NOT. Limited visibility,” tweeted the ministry.

It reopened overnight Sunday.

West of Sooke, Highway 14 was also extremely treacherous, with numerous trees down and drivers required to navigate around multiple hazards on the road.

Crashes have been reported around the Metro Vancouver region, and drivers are being reminded to slow down and drive for conditions.

Vehicles without winter tires should stay off the roads.

Mainroad Contracting said crews were on the roads working to keep highways clear.

“There’s lots of chemicals on the road, so they’re ready for the initial moisture and the moisture coming down as snow,” said general manager Darren Ell.

“But we still have crews out on the roads as well, patrolling, ploughing as required and then pretreating or adding more salt and brine as required. So we’ll just continue going around and dealing with snow accumulation as it happens.”

City of Vancouver crews were also out salting priority routes.

TransLink warned of system-wide delays due to a SkyTrain track issue on the Expo Line.

Expo Line trains are terminating at Columbia Station, and a shuttle train is operating between Columbia and Production Way stations.

There are also multiple bus delays and detours in place. Transit users are advised to dress warm and be prepared for delays.

Full TransLink alerts can be found here. 

Storm damage

BC Hydro crews worked through the night to reconnect customers, bringing the number of outages down to about 4,000 on Sunday evening from its peak of 70,000 on Saturday.

Winds reaching 90 kilometres per hour in some areas toppled trees onto power lines and across streets. In Chilliwack, a large illuminated sign near the Cottonwood Mall was destroyed.

WATCH: Windstorm wreaks havoc at Horseshoe Bay

The Fraser Valley, Maple Ridge, and Mission bore the brunt of the storm on the mainland, while Victoria, Colwood, Langford, and the Southern Gulf Islands saw the worst of the offshore winds.

Cleanup remains underway in Horseshoe Bay, where the storm damaged Sewell’s Marina and tossed boats onto the shore.

READ MORE: Icy winds, snow squalls remain in forecast for South Coast

Wind and rough seas damaged breakwaters and swamped a barge sending a forklift, containers, and some fuel drums into the bay.

A large steel barge was towed into the harbour to act as a temporary breakwater.

Hundreds of people also had their travel plans delayed as the wind and debris forced BC Ferries to cancel all sailing for Horseshoe Bay for Saturday morning and part of the afternoon.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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