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B.C. South Coast gears up for first significant snowfall of the season

Click to play video: 'Timeline of first significant snowfall to hit B.C.’s South Coast'
Timeline of first significant snowfall to hit B.C.’s South Coast
WATCH: Senior meteorologist Kristi Gordon has the timeline of when snow will hit B.C.'s South Coast and when commuters should stay off icy roads. – Nov 28, 2022

British Columbia’s South Coast is bracing for what could be the first significant snowfall of the season.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the Sunshine Coast and Sea-to-Sky regions, warning of sub-zero temperatures and “snow with significant accumulations” arriving Tuesday.

Snowfall warnings are in place for inland Vancouver Island and the Malahat Highway from Goldstream to Mill Bay.

Global BC senior meteorologist Kristi Gordon said the incoming system should hit Vancouver Island first.

“Initially, when that system moves in, it will be cold enough for snowfall. It will move in through the morning hours across Vancouver Island. Lower Mainland will be dry, but we are expecting that snow by afternoon hours,” Gordon said.

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“So tomorrow afternoon’s commute, Tuesday afternoon, is not going to be good. Avoid the commute tomorrow afternoon. And then that snow will ramp up later tomorrow and become quite heavy.”

Gordon said Metro Vancouver could see between five and 20 centimetres of snow, while the Fraser Valley could see between 10 and 20 centimetres.

Victoria was forecast to get three centimetres or fewer, while the east coast of Vancouver Island north of Nanaimo could see 15 to 20 centimetres.

Click to play video: 'Cypress Mountain opening for the 2022-2023 season'
Cypress Mountain opening for the 2022-2023 season

The anticipated snow and freezing temperatures have prompted the City of Vancouver to activate its coordinated response plan, including opening warming shelters in the Downtown Eastside, Fairview and Marpole neighbourhoods.

The city says its snow-clearing efforts will be focused on major roads and bus routes, bridges and bridge sidewalks, major streets near hospitals, four key pedestrian paths and the city’s 16 busiest bike routes.

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TransLink is also gearing up for the snow, and says it is calling in extra staff to coordinate the response.

Initial plans include preparing teams to de-ice trolley lines, replacing articulated buses — which have trouble with hills during snow — with regular buses, preparing a de-icing train for SkyTrain tracks and switching Millennium Line trains into four-car configurations.

If conditions warrant it, the transit and transportation agency says it will equip buses with grippier “tire socks,” put brass ice “cutters” on trolley buses, add snow shuttles to UBC and add more staff.

Even so, TransLink is warning travellers to dress warmly and to build extra time into their commute.

Gordon said the timeline for the snow to melt remains an open question.

Warmer, wetter air is forecast to blow into the region on Vancouver Island Tuesday night and in the Lower Mainland by Wednesday morning.

“Will it wash all that snowfall away? It really depends on how much rainfall we see,” she said.

“At this point it looks like that precipitation throughout the day on Wednesday is going to be quite spotty, so maybe not enough to wash all that snowfall away.”

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