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Freezing rain, cold grips much of BC's South Coast

A look at an icy tree in Abbotsford as another bout of cold weather hits the Fraser Valley. (Photo via Twitter: @AbbyPoliceDept)

Icy trees crash down on power lines leading to widespread power outages in the Fraser Valley

Travel advisories posted for some out of town highways expecting a heavy snowfall

ABBOTSFORD (NEWS 1130) – Thousands of people woke up this morning to chilly and dark conditions after freezing rain brought down trees and cut power lines overnight in the Fraser Valley.

Crews with BC Hydro say all available workers have been assigned in an effort to get power restored as quickly as possible, however, difficult conditions and extensive damage could mean some customers will be without electricity for an extended period.

“At the peak of the storm we had about 9,000 customers lose power in the Fraser Valley,” says Tanya Fish with the utility. “We had crews working through the night. There were very difficult conditions to make those repairs and they’ll continue to work throughout the day. We do have additional crews coming in to assist with the restoration efforts, just to get as many customers back as quickly as possible. The challenges we’re seeing are the black ice on the road and some access challenges.”

Environment Canada says a freezing rain warning is in effect for the Fraser Valley, with conditions not expected to ease until later Friday night, while most of southern BC is covered by snowfall or extreme cold warnings that are not due to budge until the weekend.

Travel advisories are posted for the entire Coquihalla Highway and heavy snow is also forecast for Highway 97C between Merritt and Kelowna, with Environment Canada calling for as much as 25 centimetres in mountain passes before Saturday.

Extreme cold warnings are also posted for the Peace River region and other sections of northern BC with wind chill forecasts to make temperatures feel as low as -40 degrees, while it will feel close to -30 degrees in Kitimat, Terrace and Stewart, thanks to Arctic outflow winds.