The provincial government has advised the public not to travel as Agassiz-Harrison braces for a meteorological triple threat.
Heavy snow is forecasted to hit the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, quickly followed by freezing rain and ice pellets and another round of rain after that. This is the result of a collision of an arctic front and moisture coming from the Pacific Ocean.
“These are very dangerous conditions,” said minister of emergency management and climate readiness Bowinn Ma during a news conference on Thursday.
In Agassiz Harrison, on Friday, residents can expect 10 to 15 centimetres of ice pellets and snow with wind gusts up to 50 km/h. Temperatures will be steady at -5C with a wind chill of -19 C.
On Christmas Eve, conditions are expected to warm up with Agassiz-Harrison projected to have periods of rain with a high of 5 C. On Christmas Day, the rain is expected to continue with a high of 7 C.
If you need to travel during the severe weather, officials advise you to go with an emergency kit of warm clothes, flashlights, a snow brush, food and water and a full tank of gas.
Minister of transportation and infrastructure Rob Fleming advised urged only with proper tires and with the vehicle completely cleared of snow. Out-of-season tires and snow flying off vehicles has resulted in stranded drivers and crashes. On Wednesday night, the Coquihalla Highway was shut down overnight due to multiple vehicle incidents between Hope and Merritt.
The River Forecast Centre is closely monitoring the snowpack and potential precipitation in the event of a surge in water levels. Forecaster Dave Campbell did not expect it to be a severe issue throughout the province; he is mostly concerned with Sunday and Monday. With the Fraser River at unprecedented lows, flooding in Agassiz-Harrison may be unlikely.
Freezing rain is likely to create power outages over the next few days.
Road conditions in Agassiz-Harrison were slightly snowy at worst in most areas of Agassiz-Harrison prior to Thursday evening. The province has indicated main transportation routes have been prioritized and road crews are prepared with ice blades when the snow switches to freezing rain and ice pellets.
While it’s true that local RCMP reported few crashes in the area because of the snow, the conditions are projected to take a sharp turn for the worse through at least Friday.
Ma said anyone experiencing homelessness should do their best to seek out one of those centres. A full list can be found on the EmergencyInfoBC site.
Check back with The Observer for the latest local weather information.
–With files from Jane Skrypnek