Drivers urged to postpone travel as storm strikes Fraser Valley
Published Friday, January 12, 2018 7:56AM PST
Last Updated Friday, January 12, 2018 2:00PM PST
Local police are urging drivers to postpone nonessential travel as a winter storm pelts the Fraser Valley with freezing rain, snow and wind.
Officers are asking anyone passing through the parts of the region that fall under an Environment Canada weather warning to wait until conditions clear. They ask those who must be on the roads to make sure they have snow tires and take it slow.
DriveBC has a travel advisory in effect for Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Hope, warning that heavy snowfall will limit visibility.
While no advisories were in place on the Coquihalla Friday morning, one driver told CTV News he'd seen two or three semis flipped on his way back from the Interior. DriveBC cameras showed the highway icing over.
"You're got blowing snow, you've got slush, you've got ice, you've got people driving 60 and people passing at 120," Sean Tinney said.
In addition to drivers, some students were also affected by the weather.
Friday's forecast prompted closures of all Chilliwack public schools and any programs that operate out of the schools, leaving parents who did go into work scrambling to find childcare.
Classes were cancelled, as were daycares and other community programs that use the schools. Sports tournaments that were supposed to start Friday were also cancelled.
Gerry Slykhuis, secretary-treasurer for the Chilliwack Board of Education, said he thought most parents were understanding, particularly after last year's unusually snowy season.
The decision to close was made due to the combination of heavy snow Thursday and freezing rain risk Friday, and was made with the safety of students and staff in mind. While crews worked all night to clear the snow, they weren't able to reach all parking lots and sidewalks cleaned by morning, he said.
Officials make the call early in the day, and while many roads may have been fine in the morning, they were worried about kids getting home if conditions worsened.
The wicked weather was caused by the collision of arctic air spilling out from the B.C. Interior and a Pacific storm advancing inland from the coast.
Environment Canada's winter storm warning – in effect for central, east and western parts of the valley – forecast freezing rain and snow would develop near midday Friday. The hazardous conditions could continue into the evening before precipitation changes to rain.
Freezing rain had already begun in parts of the valley Friday morning, leaving bushes, branches and even vehicles encased in ice.
The owner of a Mazda Miata covered in about an inch of ice said he'd only left his vehicle in the parking lot for one night.
"That's how crazy this has become," he told CTV News as he poured hot water he got from a nearby Tim Horton's on the driver's side door to melt some of the ice.
With a combination of water and a snow brush, Shad Rashidi was able to chip his way into the car. He was thankful he was able to start it.
"Yes, Mazda!" he yelled.
The Toronto native said he's lived in B.C. for eight years and he's never seen a vehicle so covered in ice.
While the hot water helped melt the ice around Rashidi's doorframe, experts warn drivers not to try it at home, because the difference in temperature can cause the glass to shatter.
Friday's Environment Canada warning was the second in a row issued for the Fraser Valley. On Thursday, the weather agency warned that some areas would see between 10 and 15 centimetres of snow falling in a short period of time, and that high elevations could see as much as 20 to 30.
Winter storm watches were issued by Environment Canada Friday for the north and central coast regions, where freezing rain was also possible.
The areas of Dease and Watson lakes are under extreme cold warnings with temperatures as low as -35 C expected, and inland areas of the North Coast are warned that wind chills as low as -25 are possible due to an arctic outflow.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim and Sarah MacDonald
This is what 1600 tonnes of salt looks like. #Chilliwack is gearing up for another bout of freezing rain and snow this afternoon—with more than 200 tonnes of salt expected to be laid on roads and sidewalks over the next 24 hours. #BCstorm pic.twitter.com/Zcb5xVIquH— Sarah MacDonald (@CTVSarah) January 12, 2018