While some parts of the Lower Mainland are starting to thaw after days of freezing temperatures, others are still under extreme weather warnings.
Vancouver’s forecast is starting to warm up, with the city expected to see a high of 2 C Thursday and possible rain, according to Environment Canada. Lows could dip to -1 C, however, bringing a chance of flurries or freezing rain and the city said it’s prepared to continue clearing roads and walkways.
But warmer temperatures aren’t in Thursday’s forecast for all parts of the Lower Mainland, however.
Around noon, another snowfall warning was issued for parts of Metro Vancouver including Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Surrey and Langley. Up to 10 centimetres of snow is expected through the afternoon, Environment Canada said. At about 2 p.m., that snowfall warning was lifted.
“Heavy snow is being observed from White Rock to Maple Ridge,” the warning said. “Aldergrove and western sections of Abbotsford can expect snow to begin soon. Once the bands move through, conditions will improve but a chance of flurries will remain through the afternoon.”
Shortly before 4 p.m., Environment Canada issued another snowfall warning for the Fraser Valley, saying “bands of heavy snow” were expected to move through the region and stall over its eastern end, including Hope.
The agency said an additional five centimetres of snow were possible east of Abbotsford through Agassiz late Thursday afternoon, with as much as 10 centimetres possible in Hope.
That warning ended around 8 p.m.
In the Howe Sound region, a blizzard warning was in effect Thursday morning. Gusty winds, extremely limited visibility and blowing snow were all expected in the area that includes Squamish and Bowen Island. That warning was lifted in the early afternoon.
Environment Canada says Squamish was hit with hurricane force winds and locals estimated roughly 20 centimetres of snow fell between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
“It was the craziest snow storm I think I’ve seen in Squamish,” said Mandy Zugloff who works at Howe Sound Brewery. “You couldn’t see anything. It was just swirling wind and snow. It was amazing.”
Squamish Mayor Karen Elliot told CTV News Vancouver it was an unprecedented storm.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen a blizzard,” Elliot said. “We get winter storm warnings, but it’s the first time I can remember since living in the corridor for the last seven years that it’s been called a blizzard.”
The RCMP are warning drivers to drive to the conditions. Staff Sgt. Garett Bradley said “I’ve lived here basically my whole life and that’s the first time I’ve seen weather like that.”
Another five centimetres of snow is forecast for the Squamish region Thursday night, and four centimetres on Friday. Bradley issued this warning to people planning to travel into Sea-to-Sky country:
“Slow your speed and be prepared to stay out on the highway if it is closed. Have proper safety equipment with you; winter tires are recommended. Clean off your car and turn on your lights during the day – there was a lot of ghosting going on yesterday.”
In Whistler, a winter storm warning was issued with “hazardous winter conditions” expected. Wind chill could make it feel like -25 C and up to 10 centimetres of snow is predicted to accumulate.
Out in the Fraser Valley, an Arctic outflow warning was been renewed Thursday morning for Chilliwack and Hope, but has since been ended.
“Strong outflow winds and cold wind chill values are expected or occurring,” Environment Canada’s warning said.
“Cold arctic air will continue to funnel out of the Fraser Valley this morning producing northeast winds of 40 to 60 km/h. The strong winds combined with cold temperatures will generate wind chill values of -20 C or lower.”
Extreme weather from earlier in the week was having lasting impacts in some areas too. Cypress Mountain posted on Twitter shortly before 2 p.m. that Wednesday’s strong winds had knocked down several trees, leading to power outages on the mountain.
“We have to shut down at 4 p.m. today,” the post said on Thursday. “BC Hydro is currently working hard on resolving the issue.”
Due to yesterdays high winds, there were several trees that have fallen down on the main power lines that feed Cypress Mountain. We have to shut down at 4pm today. BC Hydro is currently working hard on resolving the issue. We will be open tomorrow morning at 9am.
— Cypress Mountain (@Cypressmtn) January 16, 2020
By next week, however, the entire region is expected to warm up and see above-freezing temperatures. Vancouver is predicted to see highs of 8 or 9 C and rain starting on Monday.
With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Alissa Thibault and Ian Holliday