Snowfall warnings for Sea to Sky and Coquihalla highways

Jan 8 2017, 5:00 pm

Environment Canada has declared snowfall warnings for both the Sea to Sky Highway, from West Vancouver’s Upper Levels to Whistler, and the Coquihalla Highway.

Another frigid blast of winter is expected due to the arrival of a Pacific front converging with the arctic air mass over the South Coast.

“Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow,” reads the federal weather agency’s warning. “Weather in the mountains can change suddenly resulting in hazardous driving conditions.”

Sea to Sky Highway

Along the Sea to Sky corridor, snow is expected to begin later this afternoon and continue through the night, with approximately 15 cm falling near Squamish by Monday morning.

Strong northerly winds could also develop, reaching 70 km/hr over the southern sections of Howe Sound. The winds are expected to subside late this afternoon.

Coquihalla Highway

About 10 cm is expected to fall on the Coquihalla Highway today beginning this afternoon, and there is a risk of freezing rain from Chilliwack westwards. There is a possibility for higher snowfall accumulations near Hope.

“There is a high amount of uncertainty for precipitation typing and amounts with this system,” reads the warning. “Several factors are competing and it is unclear which will dominate.”

Late last month, hundreds of cars were stranded on the Coquihalla Highway when 30 cm of snow fell within a five-hour period.

Metro Vancouver

No imminent snowfall warning has been declared for the Metro Vancouver region, but an updated special weather alert was issued this morning stating that snow or freezing rain should be expected beginning mid-afternoon today.

It is a coin toss between heavy snowfall or a mix of snow and freezing rain as it is dependent on how the arctic air over the region interacts with the incoming Pacific front.

Currently, Environment Canada’s forecast for the region is between 2 cm and 5 cm from the system that is set to arrive.

Precipitation should turn to rainfall later in the day, but if the freezing cold air holds up much more snow could fall. At the moment, a high of 2°C is forecasted.

Ahead of some of the previous snowstorm events, forecasters said snowfall would transition into rainfall, which did not happen and caught many motorists by surprise.

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