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Vancouver Island snowfall warning

Drive carefully on Hwy 1 Malahat

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Friday February 24, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC [5 pm Feb 25: Weather forecast still holds, but now with less snow — i.e. up to just 5 cm]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends


A snowfall warning issued has been issued for Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands for Saturday February 25.

A special weather statement at 2:13 pm from Environment Canada for the Greater Victoria area indicates a total snowfall amount ranging from 5 to 10 cm. [The weather statement was updated at 3:49 am on Saturday February 25, with the same information.]

The BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) issued a road safety advisory around 2:15 pm asking people not to travel in snowy road conditions, if they can avoid it. Also, that snowfall on the Malahat (Hwy 1) and Alberni Summit (Hwy 4) could reach 15 cm.

Emergency Info BC posted on Twitter about being the local authority for emergency response and recovery information & including information on warming centres.

Mostly just Saturday:

“A significant weather system will push across the South Coast this weekend bringing widespread snow to the region. Snow will start over Greater Victoria near midday on Saturday and taper off to a few showers or flurries Saturday night,” says Environment Canada.

By Sunday the temperature will be higher again, with precipitation changing to rain. Though some road sections may still be snowy or icy.

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Weather forecast for February 24 to March 2, 2023 for the Victoria region. [Environment Canada]

Snow still seems odd:

Snow is still something of an aberration for people who’ve lived on south Vancouver Island for a long time. As the climate changes, snow has been a bit more frequent in the last few winters.

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Back in December 2022 — just before Christmas — there was a significant snowfall that caused disruptions, including an advisory to simply not travel on BC roads (and local roads) until the weather event had passed.

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

Travel on Highway 1 and Highway 4:

MOTI says the forecast is for as much as 15 cm of snow for Highway 1 over the Malahat and the Alberni Summit on Highway 4. These are highways at higher elevations.

“For travel over the Malahat and Highway 4, all personal vehicles are required to have winter tires (M+S or mountain snowflake symbol) in good condition. All commercial vehicles must carry chains,” said MOTI in their news release this afternoon.

Local Traffic Updates | Drive BC webcams | Drive BC Road Conditions

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So far Highway 1 is clear on the Malahat at mid-afternoon, Feb 24, 2023. [Drive BC]

Avoid unnecessary travel:

Drivers are asked to avoid unnecessary travel when weather conditions are poor, prepare for delays and longer commutes, and ensure their vehicles are properly equipped with winter tires.

“Avoiding travel on Saturday when the weather is forecast to be poor will help the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s maintenance contractors keep the roads clear,” says MOTI.

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In all winter weather, remember to include a small emergency preparation kit in your vehicle including a small shovel, ice scraper, and sand or kitty litter for traction.

Your personal emergency kit should contain water and food, extra gloves and sweater, a blanket, and a flashlight with additional batteries.

Road maintenance:

Maintenance contractors will be out in full force and ready to manage any snow accumulations. With colder temperatures this weekend, contractors are proactively applying anti-ice brine, and will plow and sand to provide better traction.

Drivers are reminded to keep their distance as sand is applied and to not pass winter maintenance equipment.

Drivers can assist maintenance crews by moving over safely when they see a vehicle with an amber light approaching. This allows maintenance crews to clear the snow and improve road conditions to reduce hazards for drivers.

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Driving tips:

The Juan de Fuca Emergency Program focuses on safety in the areas of East Sooke, and west of Sooke in the Otter Point area and beyond in the CRD electoral areas.

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Juan de Fuca Emergency Program Coordinator Jeri Grant offers these driving tips:

  1. Make sure you can see properly by clearing your vehicle of all snow and ice. Drive with headlights on when visibility is poor so you can be seen coming and going.
  2. If you have to drive, do some trip planning before getting behind the wheel. Visit DriveBC.ca before you decide to drive, ask yourself if the trip is really necessary. Sometimes the best decision is to stay off the road. Postpone your plans and avoid driving when road and weather conditions are poor. Can you skip driving and make a phone or video call instead? Can you take the bus, or call a taxi or ride-sharing service? 
  3. It takes longer to stop on snow covered or icy roads, reduce your speed and leave ample distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Slow down enough to avoid any abrupt turns or stops, which can result in a skid.‚Äč

Power outages:

As of 3 pm, there are no power outages (as related to the snowfall) to report on South Vancouver Island. Any updates will be posted here.

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