Winter storm for North Coast, avalanche risk for South Coast
Saturday, February 11, 2017, 9:18 AM - A winter storm warning has been issued for the North Coast, while the snowpack remains unstable across the south with the risk for avalanches.
Icy roads, pooling water and severe traffic congestion forced officials to close B.C.'s Coquihalla Highway from Hope to Meritt in both directions overnight Friday.
As of 5:30 a.m. local time, southbound lanes are open, however, the northbound lanes remain closed for a stretch of about 88 km. Crews estimate they will open around 7 a.m.
Scroll down to see photos and videos of B.C.'s latest storm.
"There is the chance for showers through southern B.C. Saturday as the system moves out," says The Weather Network meteorologist Matt Grinter. "Colder temperatures have brought freezing levels down to the surface, so areas could see some mixing or snow inland a bit."
Avalanche Canada warns the risk remains moderate to considerable Saturday for many south B.C. regions, including the Sea to Sky, South Coast Inland and the Kootenay Boundary.
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- Snow to continue for higher elevations. Winter storm warning issued for North Coast - inland sections.
- Showers expected along the South Coast Saturday as system moves out. Areas further inland could see some mixing.
- Moderate to considerable avalanche risk for Sea to Sky and South Coast. High risk for the Rockies.
- Special public avalanche warning for: Kananaskis Country, Waterton Lakes National Park, South Rockies, Lizard and Flathead, portions of the Purcells and Kootenay Boundary regions.
- Ridge in place for Sunday, temperatures rebound.
The avalanche risk remains elevated into Sunday, as heavy snow, winds and fluctuating temperatures make for touchy conditions over many of southern B.C.'s ranges.
"Clearing skies and good riding conditions after a long drought are expected to entice people into the mountains," explains James Floyer, forecasting program supervisor for Avalanche Canada. "While natural avalanches are tapering off, we're concerned that human triggering of large avalanches remains possible throughout the weekend."
Meanwhile, a winter storm warning has been issued for inland sections of the North Coast, with B.C. Peace River under a wind warning for gusts up to 90 km/h Sunday morning.
"An intense Pacific frontal system will bring copious amounts of moisture and heavy precipitation today [Saturday] through Sunday morning," says Environment Canada in the winter storm warning. "However, with strong southerly winds forecast to develop through the Terrace to Kitimat corridor, the snow is forecast to change rapidly in Kitimat this morning and a few hours later in Terrace, resulting in only about 5 cm of snowfall for today. Meanwhile near Stewart, the bulk of the precipitation is forecast to fall in the form of snow, leading to heavy snowfall. Total snowfall amounts near Stewart are forecast to reach 30 to 50 cm by Sunday afternoon."
A ridge looks to build for Sunday through the first half of the week, as temperatures rise to seasonal.
Looking ahead into the long range, a mild pattern takes hold of B.C. through the middle of next week.
"It will be a taste of spring with double digit highs possible for the South Coast," says The Weather Network's Dr. Doug Gillham. "Next system arrives Wednesday, with heavy rain and snow levels well above 2000 metres - so rain for all ski areas. Unsettled at times through the weekend with lowering snow levels (but no wintry threat to lower elevations)."