Lightning snowstorm over Richmond, some YVR flights diverted to Seattle

Feb 5 2017, 6:14 am

Strange weather conditions were experienced over South Vancouver, Richmond, and Delta earlier this evening as several lightning strikes accompanying heavy snowfall were reported.

Lightning began at approximately 8:30 pm, prompting Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to briefly go on a red alert.

As well, ground crews at the airport are working as fast as they can to clear snow and ice from the runways and taxiways, but they have not been able to keep up with the high rate of accumulation. Cleared surfaces are covered with a new layer of snow within minutes.

According to crews, poor runway conditions including at least one incident of a missed approach have resulted in to two diversions of major flights to Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle:

  • Air Canada Flight 225, an Airbus A320 aircraft, from Calgary
  • Cathay Pacific Flight 888, a Boeing 777-300ER, from Hong Kong to New York JFK, with a scheduled stop in Vancouver

Aircraft route map showing CX888’s diversion to Seattle. (Image by: Flight Radar 24)

Both flights plan to return to YVR as soon as they can as the thunderstorm cell over Metro Vancouver has moved on, and before another cell moves in.

Most flights arriving and departing YVR today have been delayed due to the poor weather conditions. Flight Aware’s tracking data indicates there is an average departure delay of 46 minutes from the airport.

According to The Weather Network, as of 10 pm Saturday, approximately 21 cm of snow has been recorded at Vancouver’s main weather station at the airport. Snow is expected to continue to fall overnight through late Sunday morning.