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Snow slams North Shore with more storms on the way

'We’re not quite out of the woods yet' says meteorologist who skied to work
Four-year-old Luca Foley gets to work clearing his sidewalk in North Vancouver after a massive dump of snow hit the Lower Mainland overnight. photo Andy Prest, North Shore News

With schools closed, buses behind schedule if running at all, and treacherous roads, thousands of North Shore residents are making the most of a snow day.

But, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s meteorologists are warning to brace for more hairy weather.

“Today is the short break between storms if you will,” said meteorologist Matt MacDonald. “It’s the fifth snowstorm in as many days.”

Early Wednesday morning, MacDonald measured seven centimetres of snow accumulation at sea level. In Lynn Valley, it was closer to 20 centimetres. Neighbourhoods at higher elevations like the British Properties and Grousewoods saw as much as 30 centimetres.

“Pretty epic snowstorm last night,” he said. “And that fluffy snow that we don’t typically see on the South Coast.”

That is thanks to a heavily entrenched arctic air flow that blew in on Sunday, MacDonald added.

The province has asked drivers to avoid all unnecessary travel and TransLink’s fleet has had trouble making it up steep, slick hills.

As a meteorologist, MacDonald doesn’t really have the option of staying home, so he sought another method of getting to the office.

“My wife had the recommendation of taking out the skis. I said ‘Of course. Genius.’ And I had a fantastic ski right down Lynn Valley Road, down Grand Boulevard, onto the Spirit Trail and I skied right to the door of the SeaBus,” he said. “The roads are tough going right now. I must have skied by at least 11 buses this morning. None of them were moving.”

The snow makes for nice ski conditions, he said, but the North Shore has dodged a bullet compared to the Fraser Valley where there has been “absolute havoc.”

“It created a complete, sheer sheet of ice on that highway,” he said. “Despite their best efforts to salt and sand, you can’t do anything with bulletproof ice like that.”

Looking ahead to Wednesday night, MacDonald said there is another storm coming. This one will be warmer and wetter, with even a chance of freezing rain during the transition, and wind gusts of up to 90 kilometers per hour. That, combined with snow on tree branches and power lines means likely power outages, MacDonald said.

“If we see freezing rain, that is the absolute worst of all precipitation types. It’s just an instantaneous sheet of ice and it makes for really hazardous travel conditions,” he said. “We’re not quite out of the woods yet.”

Over the weekend, there is a “whole bunch” of rain coming, which is going to weigh down all of the snow piled up putting a lot of stress on structures, he warned.

While there is a chance, people need to get out and clear their sidewalks and storm drains, he added.