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Snowfall warnings issued for mountain passes in B.C.’s Southern Interior, travel discouraged

Road conditions at the summit of the Coquihalla Highway on Saturday morning. Environment Canada is projecting 30 to 40 centimetres of snow between Hope and Merritt this weekend. DriveBC

Environment Canada has issued snowfall warnings for mountain passes in B.C.’s Southern Interior this weekend and is urging extreme caution for anyone with plans for highway driving.

Issued early Saturday, the warnings from the national weather agency stretch from the Fraser Valley through to the Kootenays.

The affected highways include Highways 1, 3, 5 and 97C, with snowfall amounts projected between 20 and 40 centimetres.

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“An unseasonably cool spring storm will deliver significant snow to the high mountain passes of southern B.C.,” Environment Canada said in issuing the warnings.

“Snow will continue today as the system pushes across British Columbia. In the wake of the system on Sunday, intense bursts of flurries will add further accumulations. Gusty winds will reduce visibility in blowing snow, particularly on Sunday.”

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It added that snow levels will be unseasonably low, hovering between 1,100 and 1,400 metres, and that a transition from rain at the lower elevations to heavy snow near the passes will make for adverse winter driving conditions.

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“Motorists are encouraged to consider delaying travel plans until early next week when the snow will ease in the mountains.”

“Drivers should be prepared for winter driving conditions and are reminded that winter tires are mandatory until April 30.”

For the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 3, 20 to 30 cm of snow is expected for Rogers Pass and Kootenay Pass.

For the Coquihalla Highway, from Hope to Merritt, that stretch of road could see 30 to 40 cm.

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“Snow will fall today at the highest elevations, but will fall in earnest beginning tonight,” said Environment Canada

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“As a cold front sweeps across the province on Sunday, an unsettled air mass will result in brief but intense bursts of flurries over the highways with sudden reduction in visibility due to heavy snow.”

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