VANCOUVER — All signs point to a rare white Christmas for British Columbia’s south coast as winter storm warnings covered much of the province, but an incoming system created headaches for drivers in Metro Vancouver within hours of its arrival.

Environment Canada reported snow over parts of Greater Vancouver early Friday, forcing the closure of a key bridge over the Fraser River.

Crews closed the Alex Fraser Bridge for part of the day on Friday because of the risk of ice chunks falling from its cables and smashing onto vehicles below.

The weather office said a first round of snow should change to rain over the south coast later Friday, but more snow was forecast for Christmas Day with potentially heavy accumulations over the Fraser Valley, parts of Vancouver Island and southeastern B.C.

Residents across central B.C. were warned about temperatures that could feel as cold as -40 C with wind chill, while -50 C was possible close to the Yukon boundary as bitterly cold Arctic air settles over the region until at least Monday.

Environment Canada also reminded pet owners that extreme cold puts everyone at risk and “if it’s too cold for you to stay outside, it’s too cold for your pet to stay outside.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 24, 2021.

The Canadian Press