Home Business & Economy Emergency Management Drivers asked to avoid travel during snow-rain episode

Drivers asked to avoid travel during snow-rain episode

Major disruptions to travel by road, water and air

traffic, snow, victoria
Traffic in snowy conditions on Hwy 17 (Pat Bay Highway) in Victoria on Dec 22, 2022. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Friday December 23, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Drivers should avoid travel with snow and freezing rain in the forecast, it was advised by the provincial government yesterday.

In a news release issued out of Kamloops, Environment Canada is forecasting snow and the risk of freezing rain beginning today December 23 and into Sunday for most of BC’s southern Interior. Here on Vancouver Island, the precipitation is about to change from snow to rain, according to the forecast.

Ministers on the job:

rob fleming, dec 2022
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming at the swearing-in ceremony Dec 7, 2022 at Government House in Victoria. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Rob Fleming, extended that as well to travel on the Malahat section of Highway 1 between Greater Victoria and upisland here on Vancouver Island.

Fleming today urged people to not travel at all until Saturday, unless they really had to. Even still, as snow melts and heavy rains come, the roads will still offer some treacherous conditions. Flooding can be expected in many low-lying areas. | Check Drive BC for current conditions

bowinn ma, dec 2022
Incoming Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, Bowinn Ma, arriving at the Dec 7, 2022 swearing-in ceremony. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

Minister of Emergency Management, Bowinn Ma –in one of her first public advisories since becoming minister of the new Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness — advised people to respond carefully to challenging weather conditions.

Ma’s new ministry has absorbed the previous role of Emergency Management BC (which was a division within the Public Safety ministry, still headed up by Mike Farnworth).

Responsibilities for emergency management and climate change were similarly split off at the federal level in 2021, with BC Premier Eby following in those footsteps with his December 7 BC cabinet appointments under his new leadership.

Disruption by weather:

Disruptions to travel have occurred on roads, for buses and ferries, and at airports in the last few days due to the snow accumulation and below-seasonal sub-zero temperatures. Today BC Ferries has cancelled several sailings on their major route between Victoria and Vancouver.

Simple logistics like transportation employees not being able to get to work have added to the shortfall in travel-related services.

Some of the airlines seemed unprepared for the customer service side of the snow overload impacts, leaving passengers seated in airplanes for hours. Eventually some airlines (such as WestJet) became proactive and cancelled all flights.

All this disruption comes as people hoped to travel — especially by air — during the year-end holiday season, to see family after not being with them in person for a few years during the COVID pandemic.


Weather into Dec 23:

This system is forecast to affect the Interior starting Friday morning, December 23, and will move eastward across the province for the following three to four days. Significant freezing rain is expected to cause icy road conditions in all major corridors.

Maintenance contractors will be working 24/7 throughout this storm cycle and will adjust operations as the system warms from snow to freezing rain. However, challenging winter driving conditions are expected to persist, even with ongoing plowing, sanding and salting activities.

cars, snow, bc ferries
Vehicles await boarding onto a BC Ferries vessel on a snowy night, Dec 19, 2022. [Mary P Brooke / Island Social Trends]

The ministry may proactively close highways in the interest of safety. Travellers should expect rapidly deteriorating conditions, consider changing travel plans and be prepared for closures on short notice.

People who choose to travel should ensure they are well-prepared for the weather and the possibility of short-notice closures, ensure vehicles are fuelled up and charged, and have extra water, food and necessary medications.

Avalanche hazard:

The storm is expected to increase the avalanche hazard in part of the southern Interior. As temperatures rise in the next few days, closures for avalanche control are anticipated.


Those who must drive should be equipped with winter tires with adequate tread. Commercial vehicles over 5,500 kilograms must carry chains and anticipate that mandatory chain-ups will be in effect.

Drivers are asked to provide space for maintenance contractors on highways and refrain from passing equipment in operation until it is safe. Check Drive BC before for updates as this storm progresses.

For up-to-date information about road conditions, visit: www.DriveBC.ca

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Island Social Trends is a professional news service that covers news of the west shore, south Vancouver Island, BC and national issues. Island Social Trends launched entirely online at islandsocialtrends.ca in mid-2020, in the footstep of its predecessor publications MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013) and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020). Editor and publisher: Mary P Brooke