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School closures, flight cancellations due to snow; up to 20cm expected

Last Updated Feb 23, 2018 at 7:01 pm PST

Snow at SFU on January 25, 2018 (Courtesy @lynnkool via Twitter)
Summary

Forecasters calling for 10 to 20 cm of snowfall Friday

Closures at many schools, post-secondary institutions

Dozens of flight cancellations at YVR

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The break in the weather this week was a short reprieve as a snowfall warning is in place for the South Coast.

Environment Canada says everywhere from the Sea to Sky to the Fraser Valley is included in the warning.

Forecasters say 10 to 20 centimetres is expected to fall, starting this morning, as a Pacific frontal system approaches from the northwest.

“Into the afternoon, temperatures moderate close to or slightly above the freezing mark. The flakes get a bit bigger, they stick together and accumulate somewhat more rapidly. It’s going to continue snowing through sunset and into this evening,” says NEWS 1130 Meteorologist Russ Lacate.

“We could end up with 10 to 20 centimetres on the ground across many parts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Precipitation tapers off very early Saturday morning. Tomorrow is drier and milder. The sun comes out and Saturday’s high is 4,” he adds.

School closures

No matter the weather, many kids across the Lower Mainland are getting the day off. It’s a non-instructional, professional development day for a number of school districts.

But classes are set to start as scheduled for all public school students in West Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, and Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows.

However, the risk of snow piling up later in the day has administrators watching conditions closely.

“We have a limited number of plough trucks, salt-spreaders, tractors and snowblowers. If it looks like we are going to be overwhelmed and the snow is heavy, there may be an opportunity for early dismissal and we would communicate that,” says Doug Strachan with the Surrey School District.

“Obviously at the secondary grades, the students can get home. But at the elementary grades, it can be quite a challenge for parents to come pick up their kids. We take these things very carefully and seriously.”

Strachan says if parents choose to keep kids home for fear of conditions worsening later in the day, students will not be penalized.

Some independent and specialty schools are closed today due to weather.

Closures due to weather:

Eaton Arrowsmith at UBC
Mediated Learning Academy in Coquitlam
St. John Brebeuf Regional Secondary in Abbotsford
St. Michael’s Elementary in Burnaby
Sunshine Coast school district

BCIT
Douglas College
Emily Carr University (closed as of 2 p.m.)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Langara College
SFU’s Burnaby, Vancouver, Surrey campuses (closed as of 1 p.m.)
Vancouver Community College
University of the Fraser Valley (closed as of 3 p.m.)

Public school districts with Pro-D Days:

Abbotsford
Chilliwack
Coquitlam
Delta
Fraser-Cascade
Langley
Mission
New Westminster
North Vancouver
Richmond

Parents may want to check on their after-school childcare pickups plans, as at least one daycare in Surrey has cancelled for the day.

Cities watching for dicey conditions

Crews from Vancouver to Surrey to the Tri-Cities are busy today, given the sketchy road conditions.

City of Surrey engineer Ray Kerr says trucks are ready. “Plows, trucks with sanders — we’re going to have about 40 out on the road that will run straight through into the weekend.”

He adds they start with main arterials then move on to collector roads, but don’t always get to local streets.

Vancouver has been out for the past week salting and brining.

The city also bought vehicles that give them better access to some neighbourhood laneways for garbage and green bin collection. It’s also asking people to consider volunteering for the Snow Angel program to help people who can’t shovel their property.

The Stanley Park Seawall is closed today due to ice and snow.

Remember, you do have to clear the sidewalk in front of your business or home, the following morning after a fresh snowfall. In Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and Richmond that clearing of snow must happen by 10 a.m., while in North Vancouver and Surrey the bylaw reads “as soon as possible.”

Roads

 

A long list of problems have been reported to our traffic centre this afternoon. There have been several collisions, spun-out vehicles, and cases of cars getting stuck.

Listen live for NEWS 1130 traffic and weather together on the ones.

Environment Canada’s warning includes an advisory for drivers:

“Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow. There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas. Weather in the mountains can change suddenly resulting in hazardous driving conditions.”

The province is warning drivers temporary lane closures may be necessary on both the Alex Fraser and Port Mann Bridges until this weather system shifts.

There are no major problems being reported at this time, however, you have to have winter tires to drive on the out of town highways including the Sea to Sky and Coquihalla.

Drive BC has a list of current conditions on major roadways.

Transit

TransLink says people should bundle up and expect delays.

Buses on many routes are running late due to road conditions. Snow socks have been installed on the five buses that serve the SFU bus loop, however, there is no bus service in West Vancouver north of Marine Drive.

There are no reported issues with the SeaBus. The West Coast Express is running normally and the HandyDART is only operating essential service only for renal dialysis/cancer treatment appointments only.

Earlier today, service only went to Marine Drive. Video posted to social media shows a massive crowd being ushered down from the SkyTrain platform there.

In the past, there have been issues with SkyTrain in wintry conditions. Jill Drews with the transit authority.notes some trains weren’t able to make it over some hills.

“But we have put some new initiatives into place to counteract that, one of them being heat tracing. It’s an element that runs along the power rail to keep heavy ice build-up melting and keep the trains running. Also, we’ve put cover boards over the rail, as well, to keep snow from falling on it and building up that way. We hope that both of those measures together will reduce the risk of ice.”

“We have had some snow already this winter and it seems to be working quite well,” she adds.

We’ve also seen trolley buses have problems on hills on snow days.

“Our service, in terms of bus, is only as good as conditions are on the roads,” admits Drews. “But when it comes to powering trolley buses, we do have a fleet that can spray anti-icing agent on the entire 300-kilometre long routes of electric trolley overhead system to prevent any ice or frost from building up and stalling the buses.”

Airports

Dozens of flights out of YVR have been cancelled, mostly for regional routes.

Check your flight status before heading to the terminal here.

Harbour Air has cancelled all remaining flights today due to the wintry conditions.

Power Outages

So far, there haven’t been any widespread power outages due to the weather.

BC Hydro has extra crews and call centre staff working today and overnight to deal with any downed power lines, damaged poles, and transformers.

“It does add extra weight to trees and branches, so we often see them come down onto our lines, causing power outages,” says Mora Scott with the utility.

If you come across a downed line, treat it like an emergency. Let Hydro and first responders deal with it, and stay at least ten meters away.

Scott says it’s also important to make sure you have an emergency kit together — with a flashlight, extra batteries, food, and water.

You can check out the latest list of outages here.

Listen live to NEWS 1130 for breaking news, and the very latest and most accurate traffic and weather information. You can also follow us on Twitter: @NEWS1130@NEWS1130Traffic and @NEWS1130Weather.