Environment Canada upgraded parts of Vancouver Island to snowfall and winter storm warnings Monday afternoon, now saying some areas may see as much as 25 centimetres of snow Tuesday.
The winter storm warning, prompted by “severe and potentially dangerous” conditions, was issued for parts of eastern Vancouver Island including Courtenay to Campbell River and Nanoose Bay to Fanny Bay.
The area was previously under a less urgent special weather statement, but was upgraded due to the forecast calling for heavy snow that is likely to create slippery roads and dangerous driving conditions.
That, combined with winds of 70 kilometres an hour with gusts of up to 90 kilometres an hour near the Strait of Georgia, will create hazards for drivers from mid-day Tuesday through Wednesday morning, according to Environment Canada. Snow will become mixed with rain in the late evening.
Between 15 and 25 centimetres is expected to fall on inland areas and the region north of Courtenay, while inland sections of the North Island, including Port Alice, are expected to see 10 to 15 centimetres by Wednesday morning.
Weather statements were also upgraded to snowfall warnings in the following parts of Vancouver Island:
- Inland Vancouver Island including Port Alberni (10 to 20 cm)
- Duncan to Nanaimo (10 to 20 cm)
- Malahat Highway from Goldstream to Mill Bay (10 to 15 cm)
The west coast of the Island, Greater Victoria and the Southern Gulf Islands remain under special weather statements with between five and 10 centimetres of snow expected starting Tuesday.
— Jeff Lawrence (@JeffatCHEK) November 28, 2022
“Outflow winds through mainland inlets tonight will result in modified arctic air covering Vancouver Island by Monday morning,” Environment Canada said Sunday.
“This cold air will remain in place until Tuesday when a low-pressure system travelling down the B.C. coast will spread snow to Vancouver Island beginning in the afternoon.”
Overnight temperatures will also remain near- or sub-zero for most of the week. In Victoria, it’ll go down to minus two degrees Thursday, zero Friday and minus three Saturday, according to Environment Canada.
The snow should become mixed with rain by Wednesday when a “strong southeast flow brings milder area and higher freezing levels over much of Vancouver Island,” reads the statement.
Highway maintenance crews were busy preparing for the storm on Monday making sure plows and crews were ready. Mainroad North Island says it has a massive pile of salt ready to make brine in Cumberland.
“So we’re putting down the brine right now and that stops the freezing on the road and it also stops the bond from forming between the snow and ice onto the asphalt so it just peels right off as our plow trucks go through,” explained Chris Cowley, general manager of Mainroad North Island.
In Courtenay, the local Kal Tire is booking into next week due to a rush on winter tires.
“Snow is supposed to be coming tomorrow so everybody is scared and trying to get their tires outfitted,” said store manager Phil Dunn. “We’re doing as much as we can helping people. If they’ve got a panic situation or they’ve got to run out of town or they have a flat that’s not predictable we’ll do what we can to help them.”
He says it’s not uncommon to see a last-minute rush for winter tires instead of planning ahead.
BC Transit is also warning Victoria bus passengers of possible delays, detours and cancellations ahead of Tuesday’s expected snowfall.
Road Safety At Work, a collective of organizations whose goal is to improve winter driving behaviours in B.C., is also reminding motorists that driving too fast in winter weather greatly increases the risk of crashing.
“The critical zone for driving safety in cold weather falls between 5°C to -5°C so keep an eye on the thermometer before heading out. You have to watch out for yourself and for others sliding into your path,” said Trace Acres, spokesperson for the annual Shift into Winter campaign, in a statement.
The group is also asking Island drivers to remember that snow tires with a minimum tread depth of 3.5 millimetres are required on the Malahat and Highway 14 until the end of winter.