Many parts of the B.C. coast are seeing fresh snow on the ground Saturday morning, thanks to a potent Pacific low tracking through and lower freezing levels bringing it near sea level and to the usual mountain passes at the alpine heights, too. As warmer air moves in, snow will switch to rain in the lower elevations of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island Saturday. Meanwhile, the mountain passes in the Interior and coastal regions may see 30 cm of snow by the time it wraps up. As well, blustery winds will whip through, likely making for difficult travel through the highway passes and even lower-level communities during the snow-rain transition. Wintry weather warnings are in effect. More on the timing and impacts below.
SATURDAY: B.C. COAST HIT WITH HEAVY RAIN, WIND AND SNOW
A strong Pacific low will continue to track onshore across B.C. Saturday, bringing heavy amounts of rain, snow and strong winds inland. A barrage of winter storm, snowfall and rainfall warnings are in effect, as well a special weather statement.
It is bringing a wintry mixture of precipitation across much of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island in the morning. Temperatures continue to be cold enough to keep freezing levels mainly between 200 and 300 metres.
Strong southerly winds will usher in warmer air during the morning, however, allowing the snow to change over to rain. But there is a risk that heavier precipitation could delay the expected changeover to rain for some locations. In which case, there could be localized increases in snowfall accumulations.
By the time it wraps up, snowfall accumulations of 5-15 cm are possible across the Lower Mainland before it changes to rain.
Meanwhile, rainfall amounts will be heaviest along the western Vancouver Island coast where 50-75 mm is expected through Sunday morning. As you head inland, 20-50 mm is expected across the Lower Mainland.
The heaviest snow totals will fall on coastal mountains, with impact to travel likely through many of the highway passes.
"Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve. Rapidly accumulating snow will make travel difficult. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow," warns Environment and Climate Change Canada in a winter storm warning for the Coquihalla Highway, Hope to Merritt.
Up to 30 cm of snowfall is possible for the mountain passes through the interior regions.
As well, the winds will continue to be gusty along the coast Saturday. As the system moves further inland, wind gusts of 40-60 km/h will reach the Lower Mainland. The same intensity of gusts are forecast through the Strait of Georgia, as well.
MUST SEE: Canada's 2021 Holiday Snow Report
Beyond the weekend, 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.
If you're dreaming of a white x-mas Vancouver, you'd probably sketch something like this. We're potentially looking at coldest and/or snowiest 2nd half of December Since 2008. pic.twitter.com/zQyzymp74N
If you’re dreaming of a white x-mas Vancouver, you’d probably sketch something like this. We’re potentially looking at coldest and/or snowiest 2nd half of December Since 2008. Tyler Hamilton on Twitter: "If you're dreaming of a white x-mas Vancouver, you'd probably sketch something like this. We're potentially looking at coldest and/or snowiest 2nd half of December Since 2008. pic.twitter.com/zQyzymp74N / Twitter"
— Tyler Hamilton (@50ShadesofVan) Tyler Hamilton on Twitter: "If you're dreaming of a white x-mas Vancouver, you'd probably sketch something like this. We're potentially looking at coldest and/or snowiest 2nd half of December Since 2008. pic.twitter.com/zQyzymp74N / Twitter"
Be sure to check back for the latest updates on the storm systems pushing into B.C.