First major snow takes heavy toll on B.C.'s Lower Mainland

First major snow takes heavy toll on B.C.'s Lower Mainland

The first major snowfall of the season for parts of the Lower Mainland has resulted in dicey travel, stranded commuters and power outages. At the height of the storm on Tuesday, B.C. Hydro reported that more than 30,000 customers were left in the dark, with about 20,000 still without power early Wednesday morning -- mostly north of Vancouver Island.

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Snow will continue to impact southern B.C. through Wednesday, while coastal areas of the Lower Mainland already saw a transition to mixing or rain into the early pre-dawn hours.

"Snowfall rates will begin to ease from west to east across the southern half of the province through the day Wednesday, with most snow finished by the late afternoon and early evening hours," says Kelly Sonnenburg, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

image - 2022-11-30T045838.350
image - 2022-11-30T045838.350

A few convective bursts of snow are possible into Thursday morning across Vancouver Island however, as the upper low settles south across the region.

PHOTOS: Messy travel, outages as heavy snow hits B.C.'s South Coast

The deep early winter low pressure system brought strong winds, blowing snow and widespread accumulations to the South Coast. By the early morning hours on Wednesday, between 10-20 cm had been reported. Over inland and eastern Vancouver Island, there were multiple reports with 15 to 25 cm of snowfall accumulation.

WATCH: Cars struggle to move through snowy streets of Vancouver

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The snow and winds have taken a major toll on travel, with drivers urged to find alternate routes or just wait until conditions fully improve.

By late Tuesday afternoon, travel advisories were in effect for many of the province's highways and winter storm warnings were also issued for highway routes including the Sea to Sky, the Coquihalla and the Okanagan Connector, with strong winds and heavy snow creating near-zero visibility at times.

BC Snowfall Totals as of Weds AM, Nov 30, 2022
BC Snowfall Totals as of Weds AM, Nov 30, 2022

The Alex Fraser Bridge was closed in both directions for several hours on Tuesday evening, which brought traffic to an absolute standstill. The northbound lanes had re-opened around 11 p.m., and DriveBC reported the southbound lanes reopened around 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning. Still, some commuters were stuck for hours due to the closures.

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The snowfall resulted in airport and BC Ferries delays and cancellations on Tuesday as well, with several flights still delayed at Vancouver and Abbotsford airports on Wednesday.

Cold, Arctic air will continue to push south into the Interior and falling temperatures over the next couple of days are expected.

A couple more rounds of snow are forecast for southern B.C. through early next week. The next system to watch will be late Friday into Saturday, though accumulations will be minimal in comparison to this recent wintry blast.

WATCH: Two more snowfall events this week across southern B.C.

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Thumbnail courtesy of Brad Atchison/Twitter.