Rounds of snow target southern B.C. this weekend

·4 min read
Rounds of snow target southern B.C. this weekend
Rounds of snow target southern B.C. this weekend

British Columbia has been uncommonly warm in recent days – bad news for areas suffering through multiple atmospheric rivers, as high freezing levels added accelerated snowmelt into the mix. Now, freezing levels are set to take a plunge into this weekend, such that moisture from an incoming system will manifest as snow for areas relatively close to the sea, while making travel through the mountain passes tricky. Special weather statements are in effect for Metro Vancouver warning of the wet snow into early Saturday. Another early winter storm looks to target southern B.C. later in the weekend, with the potential for 5-10 cm to fall across parts of the Lower Mainland. More on the timing and impacts, below.

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THE WEEKEND: VERY LOW FREEZING LEVELS BRING ROUNDS OF SNOW NEAR THE COAST

The cavalcade of atmospheric rivers that plagued B.C. last weekend into mid-week were flush with Pacific moisture, and relatively warm temperatures. At the peak last weekend, freezing levels were well above 2000 metres, with the rain and temperatures serving to melt much of the snow that fell in the weeks prior, worsening runoff into the region's swollen rivers.

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This coming weekend, it will be very much the opposite, with freezing levels well below average, and down in the 200-300 metre range.

BC freezing level
BC freezing level

That will be a significant factor in what's ahead for the province to kick off the weekend. Though high pressure keeps things calm for most of Friday, it breaks down near day's end to allow a new system to begin impacting the region through the overnight hours. Temperatures through the overnight hours on Friday are expected to drop near freezing in the Vancouver area, and on the island.

By Saturday morning, areas along the South Coast relatively near sea level, such as West Vancouver, North Vancouver, eastern Vancouver Island and Simon Fraser University will be waking up to a few snowflakes. Amounts will be relatively light, and any accumulations will be short-lived, but still, it will mean a period of snow for a part of the province which sees precious little of it.

BCLMLSnow
BCLMLSnow

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the snow for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Howe Sound and eastern Vancouver Island ahead of the snow.

Amounts do scale up with elevation, such that parts of the Interior are more likely to be in the 5-15 cm range. Presently, however, it looks to be somewhat uneven, travellers though some highway passes, Rogers Pass and Eagle Pass, should be prepared for slow going.

B.C. highway passes
B.C. highway passes

The snow comes to an end for the coasts through the morning, and in the afternoon and evening for the Interior.

BEYOND: SECOND DOSE OF SNOW TO START NEXT WEEK

Those freezing levels will stay low enough that people near the coasts will get a second chance at seeing some flakes, as a second system, featuring more moisture than the first, approaches Sunday night, with effects continuing into Monday.

"Very marginal temperatures are expected for coastal areas, but there's still the potential for 5-10 cm for parts of the Metro Vancouver area and closely watching the east coast of Vancouver Island, especially Nanaimo to Campbell River, with 10-20+ cm of snow possible," says Dr. Doug Gillham, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

Moderate snowfall is expected across the southern Interior as well, with 5-10+ cm possible for the Okanagan Valley.

"We'll see yet another snow threat Tuesday night and Wednesday," Gillham adds.

Check back as we continue to monitor these incoming systems.