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More shelters open, prepare for plummeting temperatures

January 11, 2024 at 2:36 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

People are urged to prepare for extremely cold weather and snow in many communities across British Columbia, starting today and lasting into early next week.

Cold or arctic outflow warnings have been issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in dozens of communities throughout the province. This period of significantly colder weather is expected to last until Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024.

Temperatures are forecast to fall 10 degrees below seasonal for the South Coast and cold arctic air remains in the Interior. Areas in the southern Interior, such as Kelowna, will experience temperatures falling to -20 C. The northern ranges remain very cold at -35 C. It is expected that temperatures will drop to well below average values with the coldest air lingering over the central and northern Interior B.C.

To help people who don’t have a place to stay warm, all available BC Housing shelters in B.C. will be open. As of now, all extreme-weather response (EWR) shelters are open in B.C. There are more than 5,500 shelter spaces open across the province, consisting of a mix of EWR, temporary and permanent overnight shelters. As the colder weather intensifies in the coming days, more EWR shelter spaces will likely come online. For information about where to find indoor shelter spaces currently operating, visit BC Housing’s shelter map: https://smap.bchousing.org/

During this time, people are advised to take the following steps:

  • keep their home warm or seek warmer locations, such as an emergency warming centre or public warming space;
  • frequently check ECCC’s website and app for weather updates;
  • be aware of the symptoms of cold-related illness;
  • check on family, friends and neighbours who are at higher risk of cold-related illness; and
  • be prepared by wearing several layers of warm clothing if going outside.

Additionally, motorists throughout the province are urged to be prepared for changing road conditions and avoid unnecessary travel if conditions are poor.

Emergency warming centres are also available to help people warm up during cold weather and provide information about how to safely stay warm. People should first check their community’s website, X (formerly Twitter) or Facebook page for information about emergency warming centres. Emergency warming centres and general warming space locations, such as libraries and community centres, may be listed at the discretion of First Nations and local authorities at: https://governmentofbc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=950b4eec577a4dc5b298a61adab41c06. If warming centres are not listed on the map in your area, contact your Band office or local authority for more information.

The Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness works proactively with local authorities, First Nations and partner agencies, including the Ministry of Housing, to ensure communities have the supports and resources needed to protect people when extreme weather is forecast. The Province provides reimbursements to First Nations and local authorities for opening emergency warming centres during extreme weather.

Quick Facts:

  • BC Housing is funding 3,942 year-round, 875 temporary and 706 extreme-weather response shelters across B.C. this winter season.
  • The Province is continuously looking at ways to better support operators. Since last season, the Province has converted 1,652 temporary shelter spaces into permanent shelter spaces in B.C.

Learn More:

For information about where to find indoor shelter spaces currently operating, visit BC Housing’s shelter map: https://smap.bchousing.org/

To find verified information during all partial and full-scale provincial emergencies, visit: https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/

Follow on X (Twitter): @EmergencyInfoBC

PreparedBC is a one-stop shop for emergency preparedness information. To view the new winter weather and storm guide, visit: https://www.preparedbc.ca/WinterWeather

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

Follow on X (Twitter): @PreparedBC

Follow on Instagram: @Prepared_BC

For information about extreme cold and winter storm risks for communities, visit: https://climatereadybc.gov.bc.ca/pages/extreme-cold-winter-storms

For information about cold-related illnesses, visit: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/illnesses-conditions/injuries/cold-temperature-exposure

Visit Environment and Climate Change Canada for up-to-date forecasts and alerts: https://www.weather.gc.ca

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

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

For the latest avalanche forecasts from Avalanche Canada, visit: https://avalanche.ca

For winter driving tips, visit: https://www.shiftintowinter.ca

For what to include in a vehicle preparedness kit, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/driving-and-cycling/traveller-information/seasonal/winter-driving

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