Snowfall warning remains for Coquihalla Highway as B.C. winter storm passes

A view of the Coquihalla Highway at the Coquihalla Summit on Jan. 4, 2020.
A view of the Coquihalla Highway at the Coquihalla Summit on Jan. 4, 2020. Drive BC

The winter storm may have passed for B.C., but buckets of snow are still on the way for the Coquihalla Highway this weekend.

Environment Canada is predicting up to 15 centimetres to fall on the stretch between Hope and Merritt on Saturday.

But it won’t stop there: the weather agency is predicting an additional five to 10 centimetres Saturday night, followed by yet another five to 10 centimetres on Sunday.

Combined, the highway is expected to get covered with up to 35 centimetres by the end of Sunday.

READ MORE: No break in heavy rain, snow for many parts of B.C. as ugly storm lingers

Drivers headed to the Coquihalla this weekend are being told to prepare for poor visibility, slow down and expect traffic to come to a stop if conditions worsen.

The warning comes after a nasty round of winter weather for the rest of the province.

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Heavy snow fell between Thursday and Friday on parts of Vancouver Island, the north and central coast, the southern and northern B.C. interior and even higher elevations in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

As of Saturday morning, Terrace had received 58 centimetres of snow while Bella Coola got hit with 32 centimetres. In the north, Fort St. John received 16 centimetres.

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The majority of Vancouver Island, the Southern Gulf Islands, Metro Vancouver and the western Fraser Valley saw heavy rain and high winds, with gusts peaking at 98 kilometres per hour on Solander Island. In Abbotsford, winds peaked at 81 kilometres per hour.

The winds led to several BC Ferry cancellations and delays throughout the day Friday, but the schedule was able to get restored later Friday evening.

Vancouver International Airport recorded 16 millimetres of rain, but Vancouver Island got absolutely drenched, with Port Hardy seeing 66 millimetres by Saturday morning and Port Alberni seeing 46 millimetres.

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Despite the rain, sections of the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan broke high temperature records on Friday.

Vancouver saw a high of 12 degrees, shattering a record that had stood since 1934. Similar long-standing records were also broken in Pitt Meadows (15.3 degrees), Summerland (9 degrees), and Penticton (9.3 degrees).

READ MORE: Rare ‘extreme’ avalanche warning issued for B.C.’s Sea-to-Sky region

The drastic shifts in weather have created high risks of avalanches in the province, with the South Coast sitting at a moderate-to-high danger rating and the Sea-to-Sky region under a rare “extreme” warning.

Central Vancouver Island and the inland South Coast, including the Fraser Valley and Cache Creek areas, are also under warnings.

B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan 3
B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan 3

Power outages persist

BC Hydro crews were racing to restore power to roughly 18,000 customers throughout the province Saturday morning — a majority of which were in the Thompson and Shuswap regions.

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More than 50 outages affected 12,475 customers in those regions by 9 a.m. Saturday. Eight of those outages remain in place from the earlier storm that hit the area just before New Year’s Day.

By 2:30 p.m.., the number of affected customers had dropped to 1,038 among 38 outages.

The utility is now saying many people in the Thompson and Shuswap areas could remain without power through the weekend.

READ MORE: Power outages aplenty throughout province, BC Hydro map shows

Meanwhile, 25 outages in the Okanagan and Kootenays were affecting 154 customers along with 11 outages on northern Vancouver Island (344 customers).

In the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast, nine outages were impacting 222 customers by the afternoon.

Ahead of the storm, BC Hydro said it was preparing for outage numbers similar to the winter storm that rocked the B.C. coast in December 2018, which saw hundreds of thousands lose power.

To view B.C. Hydro’s power outage map, click here.

—With files from Doyle Potenteau and Robyn Crawford

Kelowna Weather Forecast: January 3
Kelowna Weather Forecast: January 3