The North Shore was still digging out from a weekend snowstorm that left cars littered up the side of the “Cut” Sunday and spinning out on icy stretches of road.
But more headaches for motorists and last-minute shoppers could be in store as Environment Canada issued another snowfall warning Monday, advising a new weather system could dump an additional 10 to 20 centimetres on the North Shore Monday night and into Tuesday, while temperatures overnight were expected to dip to an icy -6 C.
About 10 to 12 centimetres of snow fell on the North Shore on Sunday, according to Environment Canada.
Chaos on the Cut
Chaos on the Cut erupted soon after 6 a.m. on Sunday as numerous vehicles trying to make it up the steep section of Highway 1 found themselves stuck and blocking other traffic.
Weather chaser Brad Atchison posted a video on Twitter driving west on the highway around 7:45 a.m. Sunday from the bottom of the Cut. “There were so many spun-out cars, I lost count,” he said.
Former District of North Vancouver council member Mathew Bond said he could see the trouble on the highway from his apartment overlooking Lynn Creek.
“I could see traffic, especially westbound traffic, was completely stuck,” he said. “Emergency vehicles were stuck in the middle. No one could move. There were cars, trying to get up the off ramp to Mountain Highway and they were slipping and sliding all over the place.”
Helpers dig out stuck motorists with shovels
Bond jumped on his bike, equipped with winter tires, and grabbed a shovel, heading over to see if he could help.
Bond said he and others with shovels helped dig out stranded motorists. Bond said he then walked down the line of cars and tried to discourage those without proper snow tires from attempting to drive up the steep, snowy highway. Most of the problems were being caused by people without proper tires become stuck and then blocking the highway for others, he said.
Const. Mansoor Sahak of the North Vancouver RCMP said the situation on the Cut on Sunday isn’t unique. “People struggle getting up that hill, if a little bit of snow accumulates,” he said.
On Monday, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure issued an advisory warning drivers to stay off the road unless their vehicle is equipped with winter tires.
Highway contractors were out overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning, salting and brining roads, including the Cut, according to a statement from the ministry.
But vehicles that spun out at the bottom of the hill blocked snowplow access to the highway, temporarily preventing clearing. After tow trucks cleared the cars, contractors did multiple passes of the highway, according to the ministry.
Police car hit after driver loses control on ice
On Monday, the roads remained slick, especially on the Fern Street overpass in North Vancouver. One RCMP officer who was attending to a spun-out vehicle had her own police vehicle hit by a driver who lost control on the ice, said Sahak.
“She was inside the vehicle with her lights on and was hit by another vehicle,” he said.
Sahak said the officer was checked out at Lions Gate Hospital while the police vehicle had to be towed.
“It’s really icy,” he warned. “Ice is the main concern right now.”
Arctic air to bring overnight lows below -10
An alternating mix of frigid temperatures dipping down to below -10 C and snow flurries is being predicted for the rest of the week, up until Christmas Eve.
Following snow on Monday night and Tuesday, temperatures are forecast to drop further, with Tuesday and Wednesday nights expected to be the coldest part of the week, said Bobby Sekhon, a meteorologist with Environment Canada. Overnight temperatures could dip to -11 C, with a high of only -9 C predicted for Wednesday, said Sekhon.
“That’s pretty cold,” he added.
Cold temperatures and snow are expected to linger until Saturday, when a warming trend points to a possibly slushy Christmas.