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B.C. urged to prepare for holiday cold snap with -50 C expected in the north

Extreme cold, heavy snowfall forecast for much of B.C.
Extreme cold weather this week will continue to transform the landscape in the Cariboo Chilcotin this week. This image of the Fraser River was taken just as the temperatures were starting to drop. (Denise Cahoose/Contributed to Williams Lake)

British Columbia is in for a cold Christmas — Environment Canada has issued extreme cold and snowfall warnings for several sections of the province.

Temperatures are expected to hit as low as -45 C in northern B.C. with cold temperatures lasting until at least Monday morning. An extreme cold warning for the Bulkley Valley, Lake District, Chilcotin and Cariboo area states an extreme wind chill could bring temperatures near -50 C on Christmas night.

A snowfall warning is in effect for Metro Vancouver and the Lower Mainland with snowfall amounts of at least five centimetres.

Over on the Island, areas like Courtenay and Campbell River could see up to 15 cm of snow starting Friday morning (Dec. 24). With the wind chill, temperatures on Vancouver Island will near record lows and could reach below -20 C. A special weather statement is in effect for East Vancouver Island, Inland Vancouver Island, Southern Gulf Islands, Greater Victoria and the Malahat Highway.

In the Kootenays, up to 20 cm are expected for Highway 3’s Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass and up to 10 cm is expected for the East Kootenays.

One of the only sections not covered by weather warnings is the Interior. However, temperatures below -20 C and snow are expected for much of the Thompson-Okanagan.

“We’ve been working this week to make sure provincial road crews, First Nations and local governments are prepared for what is to come,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said.

Many B.C. municipalities have activated emergency cold weather shelters to prepare for the coming weather. More than 1,900 temporary shelter spaces and 300 extreme weather spaces have opened up across B.C.

Farnworth said that outreach workers and RCMP will notify homeless folks of their options for shelter and assist in moving their belongings.

“It is vital that all of us step up to prepare and to do what is necessary to protect ourselves, our families and our vulnerable friends and neighbours.”

When extreme cold warnings are in effect, people must be vigilant for cold-related symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and colour changes in extremities. Frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin.

READ MORE: Ice jam hazard upgraded to evacuation alert for area near Smithers

READ MORE: Island RCMP issue warning about safe winter driving after multiple crashes


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