Extreme cold, dangerous wind chill and snow in store for many parts of B.C.

·4 min read
Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for Metro Vancouver for Tuesday morning that ended shortly before 9 a.m., but there are still several weather alerts in place across the province. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for Metro Vancouver for Tuesday morning that ended shortly before 9 a.m., but there are still several weather alerts in place across the province. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Environment Canada says extreme cold and Arctic outflow warnings have returned to many areas of British Columbia Tuesday and is reminding drivers to move cautiously on roads that could be slick with snow and black ice.

The agency has issued several weather alerts for the province, including extreme cold warnings for the north and central coasts, where it could feel as cold as -20 C due to the wind chill.

Meanwhile, winter storm watches warn of up to 20 centimetres of snow over northern Vancouver Island and the Central Coast through Thursday.

Metro Vancouver was under a snowfall warning early Tuesday, with forecasters calling for "heavy flurries'' and "sudden accumulations'' at higher elevations. That warning was lifted before 9 a.m. PT.

Special weather statements are in effect for Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, which are currently under an unstable air mass expected to produce pockets of flurries throughout the day.

Environment Canada meteorologist, Bobby Sekhon, said he does expect snow to hit the Lower Mainland tomorrow.

"The winter weather continues as we are approaching the next winter storm coming Wednesday night into Thursday," said Sekhon, adding up to 20 centimetres of snow could hit parts of Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island within that time frame.

Black ice is also a concern on South Coast roads after days of snow, rain and cold temperatures.

Visit Environment Canada for the latest weather alerts and DriveBC for up-to-date road conditions.

Kevin Toews
Kevin Toews

Teenager killed in fatal vehicle crash

South Coast weather conditions contributed to a fatal crash Monday on southern Vancouver Island, according to a statement from West Shore RCMP.

According to police, the collision happened around 6 p.m. Jan. 3 on Sooke Road in Langford, after a westbound car lost control, veered into oncoming traffic and collided with another vehicle heading east.

"The weather conditions were very challenging for motorists throughout the region at that time," said Const. Alex Bérubé, a spokesperson for the West Shore RCMP. "Unfortunately, those weather conditions ... contributed to this collision."

The crash resulted in the death of an 18-year-old driver. The Peninsula Panthers, a junior hockey club on Vancouver Island, later confirmed the person killed was one of their players, Grant Gilbertson.

According to a news release, club owner Pete Zubersky started to get concerned after Gilbertson did not show up for scheduled practice at the Panorama Recreation Centre on Monday. Players and staff received word of the crash 20 minutes before practice ended, Zubersky says.

"I cannot explain the grief we felt as a group, it was palpable," he said in the release. "I am just so saddened by this situation and I know that Grant's family and friends have had their hearts ripped out."

Zubersky says there will be a celebration of Gilbertson's life before the Panthers' next game on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. PT.

Frigid conditions

An Arctic ridge of high pressure over the B.C. Interior bringing strong outflow winds through the fjords and inlets of the north and central coast is responsible for the extreme cold in these regions.

In Stewart, Terrace, Kitimat, Gitwinksihlkw and Bella Coola, strong winds and low temperatures will combine to produce wind chill values near or below -20 C.

Further north, in the Peace River and Williston areas, moderate winds from the north or northwest will give wind chill values of -40 C to -45 C.

"Frostbite and hypothermia can occur within minutes if adequate precautions are not taken when outdoors," warned Environment Canada.

Submitted/Hayden Buck
Submitted/Hayden Buck

Avalanche risk high

Avalanche Canada says danger ratings are high and backcountry travel is not recommended in areas of the South Coast, Sea-to-Sky and Vancouver Island mountains, which have been blanketed by at least a metre of snow since New Year's Day.

Snow slabs formed by the wind in exposed areas are "touchy,'' Avalanche Canada says in a post on its website.

"These slabs may take some time to stabilize, as they sit on a weak snow surface formed during the cold spell,'' the advisory says.

North Shore Rescue said a small avalanche partially engulfed a skier in the backcountry on Hollyburn Mountain in West Vancouver on Monday.

The skier suffered a possibly broken leg, the rescue team said in the social media post. Volunteers loaded him on a stretcher and skied him to safety just before nightfall.

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