WATCH: People across Vancouver Island are feeling the winter chill as a blast of Arctic weather sweeps across the region. Ceilidh Millar reports.
Sub-zero temperatures, frigid air and pounding snowfall swept across Vancouver Island on Friday.
Environment Canada Meteorologist Matt MacDonald says it’s only the beginning of a winter spell to hit the province.
“This cold air is here to stay well into the end of next week,” MacDonald explained. “Any snow that does fall is going to stick around for quite some time.”
With temperatures expected to dip five to ten degrees below normal, Victoria has activated their Emergency Response Protocol in shelters across the region.
“We’re expecting a higher than normal intake of individuals seeking shelter,” said Jen Wilde with the Greater Victoria Extreme Weather Response Program.
Four hundred and fifty beds are available including 12 additional spaces at a new shelter on the West Shore in Sooke opened in response to freezing conditions.
Frigid temperatures paired with Arctic winds of up to 90 km/h are forecast to hit the region by Friday night which has prompted wind warnings to be issued in many areas.
There’s also the threat of reduced visibility caused by blowing snow, as well as the potential for downed power lines and trees.
Arborists are cautioning homeowners to take care of branches on trees weighed down by snow before the wicked winds arrive.
“Frozen wood behaves a lot differently than unfrozen wood,” said Jared Barabash with Urban Tree Care. “The snow is extra weight that the trees in these areas aren’t used to in these conditions, so it can failure of limbs.”
As normally temperate Victoria prepares for a cold snap that is showing no signs of ending.