British Columbians urged to prepare for winter conditions

January 5, 2022 at 1:15 pm  BC, News, Politics

As heavy snowfall is forecast across southwestern B.C., now is the time for British Columbians to prepare for cold temperatures, power outages and slick streets.  

From this evening into Thursday morning, Environment Canada is calling for heavy snow across Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, with freezing rain expected in the Fraser Valley and the eastern sections of Metro Vancouver. On Vancouver Island, heavy snow and freezing rain is forecast for the Malahat.

Drivers are reminded to plan ahead and drive according to weather and road conditions if they must travel during this storm. Commuters should expect delays and service disruptions on transit routes.

For those who must travel, enhanced winter maintenance services are in place where necessary and will remain for as long as needed through winter. Drivers are advised to reduce their speed and use caution when they encounter poor weather or limited visibility.

  • Highway 1 is expected to see more than 30 centimetres of snow, particularly in the east Fraser Valley, where snow accumulation could continue throughout Thursday.
  • The Sea-to-Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler will receive 10 to 20 centimetres of snow beginning this evening, with rain expected to continue through Thursday.
  • On Vancouver Island, 15 to 25 centimetres of snow is expected to fall on the Malahat.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and its maintenance contractors closely monitor conditions when the temperature is near freezing and snow is in the forecast. On Lower Mainland highways, maintenance contractors will proactively apply anti-icing brine when low temperatures are forecast, and plows are mobilized to quickly deal with any accumulation of snow.

Commercial drivers who travel outside the Greater Vancouver and Greater Victoria areas in the winter are required to carry chains, or other acceptable traction devices, and comply with all signs and regulations. A good practice is to keep chains on board at all times and to know how to install them.

As winter tire regulations are in effect on designated routes, drivers are encouraged to get the best tires available. These include tires with the mountain/snowflake symbol, which provide the best traction and handling in the most challenging winter weather conditions.

Residents should follow directions from First Nations and local governments. Warming centres may be opened to help protect vulnerable populations. Emergency Management BC will continue to work in partnership with First Nations and local governments to respond quickly to the changing weather conditions.

A little preparation can go a long way to keeping people safe during stormy, wintry conditions. Here are some tips to keep safe this winter:

  • Wear your winter gear: Always wear clothing appropriate for the weather. Dressing in layers, with a wind- and water-resistant outer layer, provides flexibility for changing conditions. To avoid frostbite, cover as much exposed skin as possible by wearing hats, scarves and gloves. Try to stay dry and change out of wet clothing as soon as possible.
  • Be prepared for power outages: Severe weather can cause power outages. Be prepared for up to one week by developing a household emergency plan and putting together an emergency kit. If you encounter a downed or damaged power line, assume it is live and a danger. Stay back at least 10 metres (the length of a bus) and call 911 immediately to report.
  • Emergency shelters available: People in need of a warm, safe place to stay during the cold and wet winter months have access to additional emergency shelter spaces. All shelters, including extreme weather response shelters, are open throughout B.C. This winter, the Province is providing more than 1,900 temporary shelter spaces and nearly 360 extreme-weather response shelter spaces to ensure people experiencing homelessness have a warm place to sleep and get out of the cold and rain. These emergency shelters supplement more than 2,250 permanent, year-round shelter spaces. The extreme weather response shelters are available overnight when a community issues an extreme weather alert.
  • Be prepared on the road: People should bring warm clothing that does not restrict movement when driving and ensure their vehicles are equipped with a full tank of fuel, a windshield scraper and snow brush, food and water, a first-aid kit and other emergency supplies. If stuck or stranded, people should stay in their vehicles and call 911 for roadside assistance.

Learn More:

For a list of shelters, visit: https://smap.bchousing.org/Shelters-ViewController-context-root/faces/shelters_map_frame.jsf

For the weather forecasts and current road conditions, before leaving, check @DriveBC on Twitter or: https://drivebc.ca/

Environment and Climate Change Canada weather notifications for B.C.: https://weather.gc.ca/warnings/index_e.html?prov=bc

PreparedBC is British Columbia’s one-stop shop for disaster readiness information. For tips on seasonal readiness, how to prepare an emergency plan and what to include in an emergency kit, visit PreparedBC: Preparedbc.ca (ow.ly)

Follow PreparedBC on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PreparedBC/

Follow PreparedBC on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PreparedBC

For road advisories and information: https://www.tranbc.ca/current-travel-advisories/

For information on winter tires and chains regulations:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/traveller-information/seasonal/winter-driving

For winter driving tips: http://www.shiftintowinter.ca

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