VANCOUVER — Winter storm, snowfall and extreme cold warnings cover almost every corner of British Columbia as the latest powerful storm sweeps into the province.

Several centimetres of slushy snow snarled Tuesday afternoon’s rush hour across the south coast but that won’t compare with the 10 to 30 centimetres of snow Environment Canada says will blanket southern B.C. on Wednesday night before easing Thursday.

The weather office warns mountain passes across Vancouver Island and throughout southern B.C. could see up to 40 centimetres, especially along Interior sections of Highways 1 and 3.

The Transportation Ministry warned drivers Wednesday that provincial bridges and highways could be closed because of the snow and freezing rain.

A cable-collar system is used to remove snow that builds up above the Alex Fraser and Port Mann bridges but that may be hindered by high winds, forcing the bridges to be closed for safety, it said in a news release.

Both bridges span the Fraser River and are key routes for Metro Vancouver traffic. 

Maintenance contractors are proactively spreading anti-icing brine on highways, and plows have been mobilized to quickly deal with any accumulation of snow, it said.

In central, northern and northeastern B.C., extreme cold and arctic outflow winds continue to create wind chill values near or below -45 C while forecasters say conditions will feel as cold as -35 C in southeastern parts of the province.

The extreme cold has led to ice buildups and the potential for flooding and ice jams on the Quesnel River in Quesnel, prompting closure of several lanes of traffic over a key bridge, although the city says detours are available.

Avalanche Canada says danger ratings on mountains across B.C. are moderate to considerable, but its website shows the risk of a slide climbs to high on south coast and Vancouver Island mountain ranges after the incoming storm arrives.

There have been many reports of avalanches on Vancouver’s North Shore mountains after about a metre of snow came down over the last week and “triggering large avalanches remains likely,” says the Avalanche Canada website.

It says backcountry users across the southern half of the province should “adopt a conservative mindset until there is clear evidence that the snowpack has stabilized.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2022.

The Canadian Press