RCMP urges mid-Island drivers to ‘stay home’ as snow-slicked Highway 19 leads to crashes

RCMP urges mid-Island drivers to 'stay home' as snow-slicked Highway 19 leads to crashes

RCMP are warning drivers to stay off the roads in the Nanoose Bay area due to heavy snowfall and slippery road conditions that have led to numerous crashes.

Devon Phelps rushed in to help the driver of a pick-up that crashed off Highway 19 near Parksville. The Qualicum resident was driving behind the pick-up when it happened.

“Spun out, lost it one way, then the other way and came into the ditch, hit the rocks, full 360. Yeah it happened really fast so,” said Phelps.

As snow blanketed the mid-Island late Wednesday morning, police and other first responders were called to several reports of cars sliding into the ditch on Highway 19.

The treacherous conditions swept in quickly, causing chaos for drivers. Police said they were dealing with at least 10 cases of cars in ditches in the Nanoose Flats area.

“The roads are slippier than people realize, people don’t have good enough tires to deal with the slippery conditions,” said Cpl. Nathan Lingley of Oceanside RCMP. “So if you don’t have to travel we’d ask that you stay home.”

Anyone who does need to drive should exercise extreme caution and equip their vehicles with tires that can handle the slippery conditions. Drivers are also advised to check road and weather conditions before venturing out and to follow the advice of local authorities.

The series of crashes comes after Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for eastern Vancouver Island, saying between five and 15 centimetres was expected to fall Wednesday.

“Meanwhile, strong outflow winds are likely to give local blowing snow resulting in low visibilities,” Environment Canada added in its alert.

Special weather statements are also in effect for other parts of Vancouver Island including Greater Victoria, which was forecast to receive between five and 10 cm with winds of up to 70 kilometres an hour.

A DriveBC webcam shows conditions on Highway 19 near Nanoose Bay, Feb. 22, 2023.

With files from CHEK’s Skye Ryan.

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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