Winter storm shifts from snow to rain, freezing rain for much of B.C. South Coast

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Today's weather forecast with Yvonne Schalle – Jan 18, 2020

The long-awaited shift from snow to rain began for much of B.C.’s South Coast on Saturday morning, but some areas will have a harder transition than others.

Snowfall and winter storm warnings have been dropped for Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, after a final band of snow brought anywhere from trace amounts in Vancouver to 30 centimetres on parts of the island.

READ MORE: Freezing rain warnings issued for Coquihalla, Highway 3

But the Fraser Valley remains under a winter storm warning, with Environment Canada saying areas including Abbotsford, Hope and Chilliwack could still see between 5 and 10 centimetres before the snow changes to freezing rain for the rest of Saturday.

No major road closures or conditions were reported Saturday morning, with traffic and transit flowing mostly normally.

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Click to play video: 'B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan 17' B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan 17
B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan 17 – Jan 17, 2020

Freezing rain is also set to hammer the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt, and Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton, which could last into Sunday.

Drivers are being advised to slow down and keep their distance, as freezing rain can create hazardous road conditions.

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Vancouver Island got the worst of the snow overnight into Saturday morning. Environment Canada says Lake Cowichan and Sproat Lake received 30 centimetres, while parts of Port Alberni were blanketed with 25 cm.

Parts of western and northern Vancouver Island, including Tofino and Port Hardy, are now expected to receive up to 70 millimetres of rain by Sunday evening. Other communities like Port Alice could see 100 millimetres.

The island was also under a wind warning along with the Southern Gulf Islands and Haida Gwaii that remained in place on Saturday, before being dropped in the afternoon.

READ MORE: One last blast of snow expected before B.C. South Coast weather shifts to rain

Stations near Victoria recorded peak wind gusts of 100 km/h overnight, while Cape Scott on the northern tip of Vancouver Island saw hurricane-force winds up to 139 km/h.

Click to play video: 'Snow, strong winds and freezing rain expected to hit late Friday' Snow, strong winds and freezing rain expected to hit late Friday
Snow, strong winds and freezing rain expected to hit late Friday – Jan 17, 2020

The winds led to several ferry cancellations Saturday morning on smaller routes, affecting service around Haida Gwaii and the Sunshine Coast.

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Some routes — including between Powell River, Comox and Texada — were suspended until noon.

A full list of cancellations can be found on the BC Ferries website.

As of noon Saturday, more than 3,400 customers were without power on Vancouver Island, including 450 in Victoria and 125 in Oak Bay due to downed trees. A wire was also reported down in Duncan, taking out power to another 420 customers.

Trees also knocked out power to large groups of customers in Campbell River, Courtenay, Nanaimo and Port Alberni.

READ MORE: Does Metro Vancouver need to invest more in snow-removal operations?

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BC Hydro is asking customers to be patient as crews continued to work into the morning after restoring service to hundreds of other customers overnight.

A majority of the outages were restored by 6 p.m., but nearly 300 customers remained in the dark in the Comox, Courtenay and Campbell River areas.

A full list of outages can be found on BC Hydro’s website.

More snow for other regions

Areas including the Fraser Canyon and the Sea-to-Sky region, meanwhile, are due to get more snow dumped on them throughout Saturday into Sunday.

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Environment Canada’s snowfall warning for Whistler says 15 to 25 centimetres of snow is expected to fall by Saturday night, while Squamish will likely see 20 centimetres.

The Sea-to-Sky Highway north of Squamish could see as much as 40 centimetres by Sunday morning, the agency warns, while freezing rain could also be in the mix for the rest of Howe Sound.

The north and central coasts are expected to receive cold blasts of arctic air and blizzard conditions, with winds peaking at 110 km/h.

A full list of Environment Canada’s weather warnings for B.C. can be found here.

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