B.C. shivering under harsh winter conditions

B.C. shivering under harsh winter conditions

Cold, windy and snowy conditions have gripped most of British Columbia and the harsh winter weather is expected to continue into Monday and beyond.

A flurry of weather warnings and special weather statements from Environment Canada detailed extreme cold, snow, and wind for much of B.C. on Sunday.

The frigid weather is expected to persist throughout next week, bringing with it temperatures as low as –45 C in northern B.C.

Heavy snow in many part of the province on Sunday evening made driving conditions difficult as officials warned about conditions.

South Coast region

In Metro Vancouver, a snowfall warning is in effect for Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and the North Shore. 

Environment Canada says 5 to 20 centimetres of snow is expected to fall, with another 5 to 10 centimetres on the way into Sunday evening. Snow nearing 10 centimetres is also expected for the Sunshine Coast. 

Doug Kerr/CBC

Many people in Metro Vancouver woke up to snowy and slushy conditions, but not everyone was unhappy with the winter weather.

Watch how some people in Metro Vancouver coped with the snow:

Still others suffered under the harsh conditions. Some tents at the homeless camp in downtown Vancouver collapsed under the weight of the snow. Advocates say the conditions have been tough on people living outside.

"It's been pretty miserable out here so far," said Chrissy Brett, a liaison for the tent city.

Cory Correia/CBC News

The City of Vancouver opened several warming centres to help people get in from the cold as it scrambled crews around the clock to try and keep roads cleared and salted.

There is also a wind warning for areas close to the water. Environment Canada says strong winds may cause damage.

By Sunday afternoon BC Hydro was reporting close to 20,000 customers without power, with the majority on Northern Vancouver Island.

Jon Hernandez/CBC

Elsewhere on the south coast snowfall and arctic outflow warnings are in place for parts of the Fraser Valley and Whistler, as winds could reach speeds of 80 kilometres per hour leading to wind chill values of –20 or lower. 

Environment Canada said Sunday evening that the hazardous weather conditions in the Fraser Valley could make travel unsafe.

Wind warnings are forecast for Greater Victoria and Howe Sound, with gusts rising up to 70 and 90 kilometres per hour, respectively. 

Northern region

Environment Canada is warning of extreme cold throughout the majority of northern B.C., with "bitterly cold arctic air" for several days. 

Combined with winds, temperatures could dip to –45 degrees. 

The warnings are issued by the government agency when very cold temperatures or wind chill creates health risks like frostbite and hypothermia. 

Southern Interior region

The extreme cold warnings extend to northern parts of the Southern Interior like Chilcotin, Cariboo, and 100 Mile.  

Environment Canada also issued a blowing snow advisory for the Central and North Okanagan including Kelowna and Vernon, as well as Yoho Park, Kootenay Park and the Elk Valley. 

"Visbility may be significantly and suddenly reduced to near zero," says the advisory. Winds are expected to ease and visibility improve by Monday morning.

Meantime, the rest of the region will see a mix of bitterly cold air generating wind chill values of –30 C, wind warnings with gusts up to 90 kilometres per hour, and 10 to 30 centimetres of snow in other areas. 

Ferries cancelled

BC Ferries cancelled a number of sailings on multiple routes throughout the day and by Sunday evening cancelled all remaining sailings.

The affected routes are Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen-Duke Point, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay, and Horseshoe Bay-Langdale. Sailings on several other smaller routes were also cancelled.

Jon Hernandez/CBC

Travellers like Emily Tattersall said they were stuck from getting to Vancouver Island from the Mainland due to cancelled ferries.

"It's just kind of annoying more than anything," she said from Horseshoe Bay.

BC Ferries said on Twitter Sunday night that it did not expect cancellations on Monday.

On the North and Central Coast "very strong arctic outflow winds and severely cold wind chill values are expected," according to Environment Canada. 

It says temperatures will fall Sunday with wind chill values of –20, and persist throughout the upcoming week.