Snow in Vancouver: what to know in the days ahead

Yesterday was the snowiest day in Metro Vancouver in nearly three years, causing school closures, slush bombs on bridges, and the predictable combination of amazement and anxiety in suddenly having to contend with Canada’s national climate.

But unlike most times the region is graced with inches of snow, it won’t be a one-day event.

Temperatures will drop dramatically across the south coast due to arctic air through the day, that’s filtering down the south coast.

“Whatever snow is on the ground right now will likely stick for the next couple of days, even though skies will clear up overnight.”

Here are some things to keep in mind.

Slippery roads

Wagstaffe says that freezing temperatures overnight will create slick conditions for drivers.

“When you’ve got these clear blue skies, people think the roads are generally dry, because you haven’t had fresh snowfall. But in the early morning hours, especially with a windchill, roads can become slippery, even if you don’t think there’s fresh precipitation,” she said.

Snow in East Vancouver

The snow was making for treacherous driving conditions in East Vancouver on Monday morning.

The City of Vancouver used 33 salters in total on Monday to clear all major routes and priority hills. General manager of engineering Jerry Dobrovolny is encouraging people to continue planning ahead for their commutes.

“If they can’t walk or take transit, which are two very good alternatives… then take lots of extra time, because it takes longer to get in,” he said.

Transit delays?

TransLink spokesperson Anne Drennan says crews are keeping a close eye on the bus loops, particularly those on hills.

“[We’re] have transit supervisors on during the night. They will assess the inclines or hilly areas to see whether there’s going to be a major ice issue first thing in the morning,” said Drennan.

“We’ll send our first set of buses out to see how they do, and if there are issues … then we may consider re-routing some of those buses.”

De-icing trains were also sent out overnight to maintain the tracks and switches on SkyTrain lines.

Snow in Vancouver

The snow has made for treacherous driving conditions, particularly for buses in Metro Vancouver.

Data on accidents mixed

While Monday’s snow storm may have caused traffic mayhem on streets, initial indications are it didn’t create chaos in claim centres.

ICBC spokesman Sam Corea says the numbers up to 3:30 p.m. aren’t bad.

“We’ve handled almost 3,500 claims and that compares to just under 3,200 claims for the same time last year — so that is a 10 per cent increase in calls.”

However, the British Columbia Automobile Association said that in Metro Vancouver, calls for assistance doubled yesterday as the temperature dipped.

Incidentally, they released a survey showing that many people don’t prepare for driving in such conditions.

“Seventy-one per cent of drivers who took our survey said they were not going to prepare for winter driving because it just doesn’t snow enough where they live,” said BCAA spokesperson Neila Melanio.

“What our survey revealed is that many B.C. drivers, though we do have many good drivers … underestimate the weather conditions and the impact on their driving.”

Stretched shelters

Emergency cold weather shelters have opened their doors wider than usual to combat the higher demand for their services.