Storm hits B.C. with snow, freezing rain

Storm hits B.C. with snow, freezing rain, causes traffic problems

  • Jan. 4, 2015 7:00 p.m.

By Keven Drews, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – Vehicles slid, skid and crashed on British Columbia’s roads and highways, although ski-resort operators were happy, as a passing Pacific storm dumped snow and freezing rain on much of the province.

Environment Canada on Sunday issued 24 winter-storm and one snowfall warning for areas between inland Vancouver Island in the west, Kootenay Lake in the east, the Cariboo in central B.C. and the North Coast.

The storm brought wet snow to higher elevations in Metro Vancouver, as well as the Fraser Valley, and Environment Canada forecast as much as 35 centimetres for the Okanagan by Monday.

By the late morning, the provincial government’s DriveBC website contained dozens of advisories, warning drivers about compact snow, slippery and slushy conditions, limited visibility and blowing snow.

In Sicamous, a small community located almost 500 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, RCMP Const. Patrick Pyper said he had already responded to five accidents by the early afternoon and was heading to a sixth.

“Just a bunch of people driving too fast and icy road conditions and not paying attention,” he said.

His fifth accident of the day involved seven vehicles in a chain reaction, he said.

The Trans-Canada Highway was shut down for 90 minutes, and during that time a vehicle that was waiting in line caught fire, said Pyper.

“They put it out with a fire extinguisher,” he said.

In the Metro Vancouver city of Surrey, a man in his early 20s was airlifted by helicopter to hospital after his car went off the road and struck a tree.

Staff Sgt. Murray Hedderson said the driver was in hospital with possible life-threatening injuries.

Const. Mike Esson of the Revelstoke RCMP said he, too, responded to a few weather-related accidents in the morning, and motorists were driving too fast and going into ditches.

Early Sunday evening, the DriveBC website issued travel advisories because of heavy snow for the Trans-Canada Highway between Kamloops and Cache Creek, the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Kamloops and the Yellowhead Highway between Kamloops and Clearwater.

The Ministry of Transportation says travellers should consider alternate plans or allow more time to reach their destinations.

The website also reports a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Revelstoke will be closed between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Monday for avalanche control.

The bad weather is good news for the operators of B.C. ski resorts.

Emmalee Brunt, spokeswoman for North Vancouver’s Mt. Seymour, said about 16 centimetres of snow fell on the mountain between Saturday night and Sunday morning.

“We’re still accumulating snow,” she said. “It’s still snowing like crazy outside.”

She said the resort doesn’t use snow-making machines and relies on Mother Nature, which delivered a present Dec. 24 and Dec. 25.

That dump of snow allowed the resort to open a tobogganing run Dec. 26 and snowshoe trails Dec. 31, she said, adding a terrain park is also operating.

Snow-grooming machines were running Sunday, and if another 15 centimetres falls, Mt. Seymour will be able to open its main runs, she said.

“It’s a very welcomed site for us,” she said of the snow.

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