Snowstorm snarls Island
Vancouver Island will swing wildly from one extreme to the other tonight as warm tropical rains replace a winter storm that yesterday dropped up to 25 centimetres of snow in some regions and played havoc with the roads, particularly north of the Malahat.
Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Coldwells said temperatures will rise rapidly tonight, followed by up to 30 millimetres of rain in Victoria and as much as 100 millimetres on the west side of the Island.
"We're going from cold and snowy to a Pineapple [Express] warm tropical rain," she said. "So two extremes of weather within a couple of days."
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Snow and ice make driving treacherous on the Malahat yesterday, as a snowplow clears the way for a long line of cars and trucks trying to negotiate the hilly stretch of highway near Goldstream Park. Drivers can expect a shift to rain today.
Debra Brash, Times Colonist
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Font Victoria got a dusting of snow yesterday, but escaped the worst of the storm that dumped anywhere from 10 to 25 centimetres in towns and cities across the Island. Environment Canada reported a dump of 25 centimetres at the base of Mount Washington by mid-afternoon yesterday.
A snowfall warning remained in effect overnight, with a further 10 centimetres expected at higher elevations and temperatures dropping to zero.
Coldwells said the storm was caused by cold air flowing from the Interior and out of the fjords, picking up moisture as it moved over the Strait of Georgia.
Police everywhere dealt with a slew of fender-benders, rollovers and ditched vehicles.
At one point yesterday, West Shore RCMP were advising people to stay off the Malahat unless absolutely necessary. Drivers without chains or four-wheel drive were stopped and told not to proceed.
"For a while there, it was ice," Cpl. Scott Braes said. "Trucks and vehicles that weren't equipped with snow tires or chains were having difficulty getting up.
"We actually at one point had some trucks that were sliding backwards, and a couple of tractor trailers that had blocked the northbound lanes briefly. It was a parking lot almost at one point there."
By mid-afternoon, snowplows and sanding crews had alleviated the problems somewhat. Police, however, were still advising drivers to cut their speeds and use extreme caution.
In Victoria, police departments were also urging caution after a light dusting of snow triggered a number of minor crashes during the morning.
"Conditions do vary, so don't be fooled because it's clear where you are," Saanich police Staff Sgt. Brett Fryer said.
The storm caused a number of cancellations, and even the little Christmas Express steam train that could on Friday night, couldn't yesterday. It was stuck in the station at the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre in Cowichan. No Santa, no kids, no hot cocoa.
Vicki Holman, manager of the centre, cancelled the 1910 steam train's nightly run due to the havoc caused by low-hanging, snow-laden branches, whipping winds and rain. The decorated train that runs every 20 minutes through the forest, adorned with Christmas lights, made its first run Nov. 30, but was out of commission just a day later. There were fears the steel wheels wouldn't stop as well on the steel tracks given the slick conditions.
The train is expected to be back in service tonight, provided the snow eases, Holman said.
The weather yesterday also played havoc with some B.C. Ferries routes. The Queen of Tsawwassen's 9:30 a.m. arrival and 9:40 a.m. departure from Sturdies Bay on Galiano Island were cancelled due to weather. The Mill Bay ferry in the morning was also delayed due to weather.