Environment Canada has issued dozens of winter weather warnings across British Columbia as most of the province braces for another round of extreme cold and heavy snowfall to close out the year.
With Arctic outflow winds and cold temperatures, it could feel as cold as –20 C on the South Coast from the Fraser Valley to Whistler on Wednesday.
In northern B.C., it could feel up to 20 degrees colder with wind chill values as low as –41 forecast in Prince George.
The extremely cold wind chill is due to an Arctic ridge of high pressure over the B.C. Interior bringing strong and bitterly cold outflow winds to the coastal communities, explained Environment Canada.
That means temperatures in Metro Vancouver will stay below –6 C Wednesday afternoon as clouds gather and snow begins to fall this evening.
"We are looking at a system that is coming down the coast. We will be looking at increasing cloudiness this afternoon and a little bit of a dump of snow tonight," said Environment Canada meteorologist David Wray.
The weather agency noted that frostbite and hypothermia can occur within minutes if adequate precautions are not taken when outdoors.
In a statement, a spokesperson for B.C. Emergency Health Services said the agency had responded to 50 reports of frostbite or hypothermia throughout the province from Dec. 25-28.
"In the preceding four-day period (Dec. 21-24), BCEHS responded to 17 such calls," the spokesperson said.
Sandra Riches, executive director of awareness organization BCAdventureSmart, says anyone heading out into the cold should plan ahead and dress for the weather to avoid frostbite or hypothermia.
"If we get wet from sweating, that can ... decrease our body temperature," she said. "It's so important to have synthetic clothing on, close to you, to lock away that moisture."
Number of emergency calls made for frostbite and hypothermia from Dec. 25-28, 2021
More snow before New Year's
Between five and 10 cm of snow are expected to blanket the southwest of B.C. — including the Lower Mainland and the east coast of Vancouver Island from Victoria to Campbell River — starting Wednesday evening.
Heavier amounts of snow could be seen locally in some areas like the Sunshine Coast, the North Shore Mountains and parts of Vancouver Island.
According to the weather agency, the storm system will move across the south coast overnight before tapering off Thursday morning. Forecasters warned visibility will be affected and make travel difficult.
Wray said skies will look clearer Friday, though still cold, before another storm system moves in Saturday, making it tricky to forecast when the cold snap will end.
"The tricky part is because of the heavier precipitation coming through on Saturday and Sunday — how fast does that change from snow to rain? It could also mean some snow at higher elevations and maybe rain closer to the water."
Still, Wray said the start of 2022 is expected to kick off a slight warming in temperatures.
"We're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Things are slowly warming up."