Warnings of snowfall and extreme cold covered the northern BC. Saturday, while two remote communities on Vancouver Island went into their fifth day without power due to winter storms.
BC Hydro’s President and CEO Chris O’Riley said in a statement on Twitter that crews faced particularly challenging conditions when repairing power lines to Tahsis and Zeballos.
Major repairs should be completed by Sunday, after which the lines could be reactivated, he said, though further work may be needed to fully restore electricity. Several large structures were damaged on the line.
“Because of its remote location, helicopter support is needed to complete repairs, and our crews have been at the mercy of weather windows to be able to fly safely, all the while handling snow in some areas,” O’Riley said.
BC Hydro’s website showed that 711 customers in the communities on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island have been without power since Tuesday.
Winter storms have ravaged BC. in the last many weeks and brought unusual amounts of snow and cold temperatures to places like Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.
On Saturday, weather forecasts were concentrated in the northern BC, while the more populous regions in the southern BC. so less serious weather forecasts in effect.
“Right now we’re looking at a fairly large system pushing in on the BC coast, but fortunately most of the snow associated with it will remain north of the lower mainland,” said Gregg Walters, a meteorologist with environment and Climate Change Canada.
A Pacific frontal system moving northeast brought warnings of heavy snow and extreme cold to areas such as Prince George, Quesnel, Bulkley Valley and other districts.
Environment Canada warned that a frontal system near the Yukon border would push wind cooling temperatures near or below -45C.
A warning for the central coast near Bella Bella said a low-pressure system would bring five to 10 inches of snow before it turned to rain in the middle of the day Saturday.
The special weather forecasts warned of snow mixed with rain in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, eastern Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.
There was also a risk of freezing rain for Fraser Valley, it said.
“It may be a bit of a concern, but we’re not going to see near the snowfall events we saw Wednesday and Thursday,” Walters said.
The persistent cold spell is partly caused by Arctic air anchored over the interior of the province, which has seeped out to the coast over coves and valleys, he added.
The agency warned motorists to prepare for adapting to changing road conditions, as winter weather can deteriorate rapidly.
“Public Safety Canada urges everyone to make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, medicine, a first aid kit and a flashlight,” the warning said.
Osama Hanna said he was among many motorists stuck on Highway 1 near Hope, BC, for several hours Friday.
Hanna, who owns Hope Pharmacy, said he was trying to get some emergency medication for a client. He left his family in Abbotsford to drive the drive, even though it was the day he celebrates Christmas as an Orthodox Christian, he said.
Hanna immigrated to Canada from Egypt 12 years ago and said he has never seen so much snow.
He was worried about freezing or running out of gas, with no public information on how long the roadblock would last.
“When you go through something like that, you have no one to tell you, it will only take two hours, just be calm,” he said.
DriveBC also warned of high avalanche risk and highway closures along sections of Highway 1, 3, 12, 16, 31 and 99.
The Department of Transportation said in a statement that sections of Highways 1 and 3 have been closed since Thursday due to the risk, as well as large avalanche deposits on the highway.
“Crews are working to clear the deposits after receiving permission from the avalanche team,” the statement said.