More snow expected Wednesday night on B.C.'s South Coast after unexpected snowfall leads to traffic woes

Commuters exit a bus during a period of snowfall in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Commuters exit a bus during a period of snowfall in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

An unexpectedly heavy snowfall early Tuesday caused power outages, airport delays and traffic slowdowns in parts of B.C.'s South Coast, and Environment Canada says more snow could hit parts of the region starting Wednesday night.

Commuters in Metro Vancouver were met with heavy, wet snow piling up on major thoroughfares and spun-out buses blocking lanes in some areas. Both major bridges leading into and out of North Vancouver were quickly backed up as drivers struggled to find grip on the hills, while SkyTrains in the region were slow as crews worked to clear ice and snow from doors by hand.

Several dozen flights were either delayed or cancelled at Vancouver International Airport as the snow hampered visibility and crews' ability to de-ice planes. Airport officials said they anticipate to be back at full capacity by 6 p.m.

A special weather statement issued Tuesday says another round of snow is expected for parts of the region from Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

Environment Canada said snowfall totals will vary by location and elevation. In Metro Vancouver, up to 5 centimetres of snow is likely over higher terrain while the Sea to Sky Corridor could see up to 15 centimetres.

Thursday's morning commute will likely be affected, the weather agency said.

WATCH | Late winter snowfall coats Metro Vancouver:

Almost 25,000 properties across the province's southwest were without power early Tuesday. As of 5:15 p.m. PT, more than 5,000 were still without power, the vast majority of them in southern Vancouver Island.

B.C. Transit halted all service in the Victoria regional system and across the Cowichan Valley due to the icy roads. Some routes were seeing limited service again by mid-morning.

Travellers on the Malahat Highway were also warned to drive carefully or stay home if possible.

Mainroad, the maintenance company in charge of clearing provincial highways across the Lower Mainland, said drivers in Metro Vancouver could expect wet snow during Tuesday's morning commute.

WATCH | CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe explains how climate change is supercharging winter storms: 

HOV lanes on the Port Mann Bridge were closed in both directions Monday, while "rolling closures" were in place on the Alex Fraser Bridge with the possibility of a full closure of the slow lanes.

Several school districts were reporting full closures on Tuesday, including North Vancouver, West Vancouver, the Cowichan Valley and Saanich.

Simon Fraser University also closed its Burnaby Mountain campus for the day, but re-opened in Surrey and Vancouver.

A statement from the provincial government issued Monday reminded drivers to avoid unnecessary travel during poor weather. It also said drivers should be aware that provincial bridges and highways may be closed at short notice due to safety concerns.

Ben Nelms/CBC
Ben Nelms/CBC

Mail delivery suspended, delayed

The heavy snow prompted Canada Post to suspend delivery in some areas on Tuesday. The courier service issued red and yellow alerts for several regions, and said regular delivery would resume when it is safe to do so.

Delivery was cancelled in:

  • Delta

  • Duncan

  • Langley

  • North Vancouver

  • South Vancouver

  • Surrey

  • White Rock

Delays in mail delivery were expected in:

  • Vancouver

  • Fraser Valley

  • Burnaby

  • Bowen Island

  • New Westminster

  • Pemberton

  • Squamish

  • Whistler

  • Coquitlam

  • Port Coquitlam

  • Port Moody

  • Parksville

  • Port Alberni

  • East Vancouver Island