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Snow-bearing cold front blasts southwest B.C.

Monday, November 22nd, 2010 | 5:31 pm

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A blast of Arctic air is barrelling down on the West Coast of B.C., dumping snow on the streets of Victoria and shutting down some ferry routes between the islands.

Police in Victoria are asking people to keep their vehicles off the street after a dump of snow made some routes impassable and led to a rash of traffic accidents.

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for southern Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast, and road conditions are expected to worsen.

That prompted many businesses like Gateway Property Management to close for the day so their staff could avoid the afternoon rushhour, according to manager Nathan Enns.

“If the snow stops in the next hour, then…it's sort of a non-issue — the west coast over-response in terms of a little bit of snow. But if it keeps going, it's going to be a messy, convoluted rush hour going home this afternoon,” said Enns.

In Victoria, the city urged drivers to stay out of their vehicles in order to give public works crews time to clear major arteries.

A dozen smaller streets in the city are closed, in order to clear motor vehicle accidents, police said.

BC Transit said it cancelled buses to Royal Roads University along with Routes 53, and 66. A dozen other routes have been changed so buses could avoid slick areas.

The region's libraries closed at 3 p.m. All Catholic schools were closed, along with Camosun College.

Police in Saanich received so many calls that they had to ask people to stop calling 911 to report snow conditions.

Police were urging drivers to avoid the Transcanada Highway at Tillicum Road along with Carey Road, where multi-car pileups caused gridlock.

Galiano, Hornby, Denman ferries cancelled

Elsewhere on the coast gusting winds carrying cool arctic air are expected send temperatures plunging to as low as minus 20 with the wind-chill factor.

Environment Canada forecast winds of up to 80 km/h over the southern section of the Strait of Georgia on Monday afternoon, and BC Ferries is advising travellers to check online schedules after the high winds forced the cancellation of some trips to Galiano, Hornby, and Denman Islands.

“Please be advised that due to extreme weather conditions forecasted for this afternoon we do anticipate possible sailing delays or cancellations between Tsawwassen and the Southern Gulf Islands,” the ferry service has advised.

The Queen of Burnaby's 11:15 a.m. PT stop at Sturdies Bay on Galiano Island was cancelled and BC Ferries recommends that customers plan ahead and choose to travel via Swartz Bay to the Southern Gulf Islands.

Further north, sailings between Hornby, Denman and Vancouver Islands were also cancelled on Monday morning.

CBC News

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