Highway 5 at Mine Creek Road on Dec. 19, 2019. (DriveBC photo)

VIDEO: One person dead as winter storm wreaks havoc on southern B.C. highways

70 centimetres of snow has fallen on the Coquihalla Highway

An atmospheric river has brought copious amounts of snow and rain to southern B.C. in the past 24 hours – with the hazardous conditions expected to continue through the weekend.

A rockslide near Boston Bar closed Highway 1 in both directions Friday morning, but has since reopened.

The Coquihalla Highway was closed northbound between Hope and Merritt for several hours Friday morning, due to a number of vehicle incidents. That route reopened only to be closed southbound at the Highway 97 junction in Merritt.

Highway 3 is closed between Hope and Princeton due to an accident.

One person, a woman in her 30s, died while travelling near the Paulson Bridge on Highway 3 in the Kootenays on Thursday. Another person was taken to hospital with unknown injuries.

Wintry conditions will continue through the weekend, and has prompted a warning from the province for those travelling this pre-holiday weekend to plan ahead, slow down and drive appropriately.

“While snow plows will be out in full force to maintain the safest driving conditions possible, drivers need to expect winter conditions,” a statement from the ministry of transportation reads.

“Travellers are advised to bring warm winter clothing in case they need to get out of their vehicles, ensure they have a full tank of gas and carry an emergency kit.”

As of Friday morning, Environment Canada said that 40 to 70 centimetres of snow fell along the Coquihalla Highway, between Merritt and Hope. The Coquihalla remains closed northbound due to a number of vehicle incidents.

Allison Pass on Highway 3 saw 56 centimetres, while Larson Hill on Highway 5 was blanketed with 36 centimetres of snow.

Meanwhile, residents in the Kootenays, Okanagan and North will likely be waking up to a white Christmas as snow continues to fall in lesser amounts, or roughly five to 20 centimetres each day.

In the Lower Mainland, Agassiz saw 62 millimetres of rain and Hope saw 40 to 52 millimetres fall, while localized flooding could be seen in Surrey, Vancouver and other Metro Vancouver cities.

In Greater Victoria, where a wind warning was issued Thursday afternoon, wind gusts reached 107 kilometres per hour at the Trial Lightstation.

The pre-Christmas weather comes on the anniversary of last year’s major storm in the southern region of the province, which brought strong winds and heavy rain – breaking the White Rock pier and causing significant power outages on Vancouver Island.

ONE YEAR LATER: Looking back on the storm that broke the White Rock pier


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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