The Malahat Highway was expected to get a fresh round of snow overnight, enough to trigger an Environment Canada snowfall warning, while the West Shore had its own share of highway havoc Wednesday night.
Winter has been rearing its head again across Vancouver Island as a low pressure centre over the Washington state coast spreads snow to our region.
Five centimetres had already fallen on the Malahat by about 9:45 p.m. when the warning was issued. Originally, forecasting models predicted another two to four centimetres would accumulate overnight, but that later rose to five — enough to meet the warning threshold of 10 cm in 12 hours.
Moderate to heavy snowfall on #Malahat.
⚠️ Be prepared for limited visibility due to blowing snow, and slushy/slippery winter driving conditions. ⚠️#yyjtraffic #VanIsle @DriveBC pic.twitter.com/jQMR4RUY8N
— Emcon Services Inc. – South Island Division (@EmconSouthVI) February 23, 2023
That snowfall combined with winds of 40 kilometres an hour gusting to 70 km/h prompted Environment Canada to urge drivers to be prepared for changing road conditions.
“Rapidly accumulating snow will make travel difficult. Weather in the mountains can change suddenly resulting in hazardous driving conditions,” the weather agency said in its warning.
Those who do decide to brave the Malahat in these conditions are reminded that they must use winter or mud and snow (M+S) tires for regular vehicles or chain up tires for commercial vehicles between Oct. 1 and April 30 of each year, or face a fine of $121.
Meanwhile in Greater Victoria, another two to four centimetres was expected to fall overnight depending on the area, short of the amount that would prompt a snowfall warning.
But it was still enough to cause several crashes on the West Shore, according to RCMP. A number of weather-related collisions led to the temporary closure of northbound lanes on the Trans-Canada Highway from the Colwood exit to the Millstream exit, Mounties tweeted at 9:39 p.m.
“We are working with crews to clear the roadway and should be opening up in the next few hours,” said West Shore RCMP.
Traffic alert: North bound lanes on Trans Canada Hwy from Colwood exit to Millstream exit are temporarily shut down due to multiple weather related collisions. We are working with crews to clear the roadway and should be opening up in the next few hours. #yyjtraffic
— West Shore RCMP (@WestshoreRCMP) February 23, 2023
The snowfall is expected to ease Thursday morning and skies will remain clear — and cold — until the weekend, when the next round of snow is expected to hit the South Island. Forecasts range from as little as two centimetres up to 15 cm for Sunday.
Get live updates on conditions for the Malahat from Emcon South Island and other Island routes from DriveBC below.