Greater Victoria Harbour Authority closed the breakwater until further notice due to the weather. (GVHA/Twitter)

Ferries, buses cancelled as ice falls over south coast of B.C.

Overnight snow turning to frozen rain then significant rainfall, residents urge to stay home

There’s really nowhere to be on B.C.’s south coast Friday (Dec. 23) morning after many organizations preemptively announced closures and suspended services Thursday evening after the province asked folks to stay home the next few days.

The Lower Mainland’s Port Mann and Alex Fraser bridges were closed shortly after 10 a.m. due to winter conditions.

BC Ferries cancelled all the first round trips Friday morning between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland with the first two round trips cancelled for each of the smaller Islands, including the Mill Bay/Brentwood Bay ferry. Find updates at bcferries.com/current-conditions.

BC Transit suspended all service in Victoria until at least 10:30 a.m. with updates expected mid-morning.

Heavy snow, freezing rain and potential flooding are in the forecast now through Dec. 24.

The travel advisory is in place for much of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, effective Thursday (Dec. 22) until Christmas Eve.

With snow covering the Malahat and freezing rain falling, Emcon – the contractor responsible for maintaining the southern Vancouver Island stretch of Highway 1 – reiterated the message Friday morning.

Heavy snowfall over night buried the area, Emcon reported around 5 a.m. noting it was -3 C with freezing rain starting. Overnight, the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement monitored the Malahat to ensure commercial vehicles were safety compliant including carrying chains.

DriveBC reports B.C.’s Highway 5 was closed southbound between Hope and Merritt due to multiple vehicle incidents, before reopening shortly before 10 a.m. B.C. Highway 4 is closed between the Taylor River rest area and the Tofino-Ucluelet Highway due to downed trees and hydro lines. BC Highway 16 is closed near the B.C./Alberta border due to a vehicle incident. No detour available.

Environment Canada predicted heavy snow, ice pellets and freezing rain in Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley starting Thursday night through Christmas Eve, followed by heavy rain as temperatures spike upwards.

The province said freezing rain in the Fraser Valley could last as long as 36 hours.

Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery. Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Ice build-up may cause tree branches to break.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming said travel by road on Vancouver Island, the south coast, or to and from the Interior should be avoided “unless absolutely necessary.”

He said the significance of the incoming weather front can’t be overstated.

RELATED: B.C. warns against travel as south coast preps for onslaught of snow, freezing rain

Matt McDonald, lead forecaster with BC Wildfire Service tweeted out an explanation of the freezing rain falling over much of the south coast of B.C. Friday.

(with files from Black Press Media and Canadian Press)


 

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