VANCOUVER -- An Arctic air mass heading toward Metro Vancouver threatens a possible wind chill of -10 C this week.

In a special weather statement issued Monday, Environment Canada warned temperatures in the region will dip as a result of the Arctic air due to arrive on the coast Wednesday night. 

Temperatures will drop below freezing for most of B.C.'s South Coast, the statement said.

"Blustery outflow winds will accompany the arrival of the Arctic air yielding cold wind chill values," the forecaster warns.

"The Arctic air will deepen throughout the week supporting temperatures and wind chill values down to the -5 to -10 range."

The statement applies to the following parts of Metro Vancouver:

  • City of Vancouver
  • Burnaby
  • New Westminster
  • North Shore, including West Vancouver and North Vancouver
  • Northeast, including Coquitlam and Maple Ridge
  • Southeast, including Surrey and Langley
  • Southwest, including Richmond and Delta

Environment Canada advised those spending time outdoors to dress warmly and in layers. Travellers were advised to ensure they have blankets, extra clothes and boots in their cars.

Currently the weather agency expects a low of -1 C overnight Wednesday, dipping to -3 Thursday night, and -6 Friday night. However, with the wind, it may feel much cooler.

The City of Vancouver issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, as it does on colder nights, a measure that enables it to open extra shelter spaces to help the region's homeless population come in from the cold. 

"It's not an exaggeration to say that the cold weather can be a life and death emergency for people who are on the street and have nowhere else to go," said Jeremy Hunka, spokesperson with Union Gospel Mission.

"This type of cold snap hits people hard and they aren't ready for it and it could have really devastating consequences we have seen people die in the cold in Metro Vancouver before," said Hunka. 

Similar statements were in effect Monday afternoon for Howe Sound, Whistler and the Sunshine Coast, as well as the Central Coast region.

Further inland, it's expected to feel even colder.

A statement in effect for Chilcotin warns the same air will bring temperatures in the range of -15 C to -25 C. The same statement was issued for:

  • South and North Thompson
  • 100 Mile
  • Cariboo
  • North Columbia
  • Kinbasket
  • Yellowhead
  • McGregor
  • Prince George
  • Stuart-Nechako
  • Bulkley Valley
  • Lakes District
  • Williston
  • Peace River

Ahead of the incoming chill, Environment Canada also issued snowfall warnings for Fraser Canyon, the Fraser Valley and Similkameen, which have since expired.

The warnings applied to a stretch of Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton, through Allison Pass, where as much as 25 centimetres of snow could fall on Monday.

The forecast warned of periods of heavy snow were expected on and off through the day and into the night. Local amounts would vary, the warnings said, but a minimum of 15 centimetres was expected.

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With files from Luisa Alvarez