ABBOTSFORD -- The blowing snow may be picturesque in Abbotsford and Chillwack, but residents described it as painful.

Throw in the windchill and temperatures dropped to a stinging -21 Celsius on Wednesday.

“It is absolutely insane,” one resident told CTV News Vancouver.

“Burning, burning,” said another, describing the feeling of the wind on exposed skin.

As soon as crews cleared the Trans-Canada of snow, strong gusts would cover it with white again. The wind also shook cars and caused white-out conditions.

It became so dangerous Highway 1 was closed most of Wednesday from the Sumas exit to Lickman Road in Chilliwack.

So many vehicles went off the road, Abbotsford Police were out double-checking cars, making sure none were missed and nobody was trapped inside.

Motorists with campers hunkered down at a rest stop.

“Got in about ten last night and just a white out on the freeway, I could not see,” said Craig Lawson, who was supposed to be on his way to Arizona.

“Ah man it’s cold. I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never seen it like this,” said another camper.

Stores that always seem to be open, were empty. Owners said it was just too dangerous to bring in staff. Those that did open, closed early.

On this frigid Wednesday in January, Abbotsford and Chilliwack looked and felt more like Siberia.