Warnings in effect for strong Pacific system brings heavy snow to B.C.

·4 min read
Warnings in effect for strong Pacific system brings heavy snow to B.C.
Warnings in effect for strong Pacific system brings heavy snow to B.C.

Snowfall and winter storm warnings lined much of British Columbia Friday night in advance of the imminent arrival of a strong Pacific low pressure system. While primarily rain is likely for places like Vancouver and Victoria, freezing levels could fall low enough to allow for some wet snow to develop through Saturday morning, especially over the higher suburbs of the Vancouver area. The heaviest snow amounts will be in the mountains, however, with major amounts over 30 cm possible for some of the mountain passes through the weekend. Powerful wind gusts and the threat for local outages will accompany this potent system as well. More on the timing and impacts below.

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THIS WEEKEND: NEXT IMPACTFUL SYSTEM REACHES B.C. COAST, HEAVY RAIN, WIND AND SNOW ON TAP

After some early week low-elevation snowfall, forecasters are watching the next incoming system, which could bring more wet snow across the South Coast this weekend.

A strong Pacific low was set to begin to impact the coast Friday night, and will move onshore through the weekend, bringing heavy amounts of rain, snow and strong winds inland.

BCWind (3)
BCWind (3)

Winds along the frontal boundary will peak for coastal areas late Friday evening and overnight, bringing gusts between 60-80 km/h. This front will continue to move inland through the day on Saturday, with wind gusts of 40-60 km/h whipping into the Lower Mainland.

While mostly heavy rain is expected with this moisture-laden system across the south, we will need to keep an eye on how low freezing levels fall on Friday.

"Precipitation rates will be at their highest early Saturday morning, which will also coincide with the lowest freezing levels," says Jessie Uppal, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. "This heightens the risk for low-elevation snow through the Lower Mainland, especially over the higher suburbs of the Vancouver area."

BCRain (15)
BCRain (15)

Through late Saturday afternoon, freezing levels will gradually rise, and low-elevation snow along the coastlines and through the Metro Vancouver area will transition over to a rain/snow mix or light showers and ease in intensity.

Some snowfall accumulations of up to 10 cm are possible over the higher terrain before the warmer air pushes in and changes to rain. As much as 100+ mm of rain is possible for west Vancouver Island.

BCSnow (3)
BCSnow (3)

The heaviest snow totals will be confined to the coastal mountains, with impact to travel likely through some of the mountain passes.

"Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow. Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow," warns Environment and Climate Change Canada in a winter storm warning issued for the central coast.

More than 30 cm of snow is possible for the mountain passes along the coast and the interior. Local blowing snow will also limit visibilities at times.

BCHighwayPasses
BCHighwayPasses

MUST SEE: Canada's 2021 Holiday Snow Report

Overall, a quieter pattern is expected for next week, but forecasters are also watching the potential for a system around Christmas.

As below seasonal temperatures dominate ahead of the holidays, any new systems would bring a risk for snow all the way to sea level, which then in turn increases the chance for a white Christmas.

Be sure to check back for the latest updates on the storm systems pushing into B.C.

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