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Coquihalla Highway reopened after snowy conditions lead to multiple vehicle incidents

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Drivers who wanted to take the Coquihalla Highway Monday evening were forced to plan another route as multiple vehicle incidents led to closures in both directions.

DriveBC posted a notice at about 5 p.m., saying the route was closed northbound because of an incident north of Portia. Drivers were advised to use Highway 1 or Highway 3 as alternate routes.

Then, at about 6:30 p.m., drivers were told a southbound vehicle incident at Zopkios was causing delays.

Southbound lanes didn't remain open for much longer. Shortly before 8:30 p.m., DriveBC issued another notice saying an incident near Larson Hill was forcing the closure of Highway 5 southbound.

The entire route was closed until just after midnight, when the Larson Hill incident was cleared and southbound lanes reopened. It wasn't until about 1 a.m. that DriveBC said the highway was fully cleared and open in both directions.

Coquihalla Highway southbound at Zopkios Rest Area, near the Coquihalla Summit, looking north on Feb. 27, 2024.

Winter storm watch remains

While Monday night's incidents on the Coquihalla are cleared, drivers are being warned to expect significant snowfall and gusty winds into Thursday.

A winter storm watch issued by Environment Canada says snow on Highway 5 between Hope and Merritt is expected to intensify overnight and last through Wednesday and Thursday. The weather agency said snowfall amounts could vary along the routes, based on highway elevation.

The alert is also in place for the Trans-Canada Highway between Eagle and Rogers passes, as well as for Highway 3 between Paulson Summit and Kootenay Pass.

"Rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult over some locations. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow," Environment Canada's notice says. "Weather in the mountains can change suddenly resulting in hazardous driving conditions."

Meanwhile, in the Lower Mainland, a snowfall warning is in place for the Sea to Sky Highway between Squamish and Whistler. Environment Canada says drivers should expect accumulations of 15 to 25 centimetres along that route. Snow is expected to start late Tuesday afternoon and get heavier overnight. 

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