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British Columbia

Arctic air will bring cold temperatures across British Columbia this weekend Pipa News

An arctic air mass settled over much of BC on Saturday, bringing unseasonably cold temperatures to the province and raising concerns for those under shelter.

Environment Canada has released a series of special weather reports covering much of western and southern BC

According to the forecaster, Arctic air is expected to significantly alter temperatures from Saturday night through Monday.

In Metro Vancouver and the South Coast, Environment Canada says temperatures will drop 5C below seasonally on Saturday night.

Strong outflow winds are also expected starting through coastal valleys [Saturday] will ease tomorrow morning and on Sunday,” says the meteorologist. “Fiery winds combined with frigid temperatures create little wind chill, making it feel colder.”

In the central and southern interior, from the Fraser Canyon to the Alberta border, nighttime temperatures drop 5°C to 10°C below the seasonal average.

“A brief period of gusts of wind will accompany the arrival of cold air through the interior and may be combined with snow, resulting in a brief spell of blowing snow,” the special weather statement said.

A person is driving down a street with a small snow plow, snow is piling up on houses and trees everywhere.
In Cranbrook, BC, the cold snap has already brought a ton of snow to the area, with Environment Canada warning of the risk of snowdrifts over the weekend. (Corey Bullock/CBC)

In addition to the weather reports, an Extreme Cold Warning has been issued for the Yoho Park – Kootenay Park region on the BC-Alberta border, a wind chill warning that could feel -35C at night.

“Conditions are expected to be moderate through Sunday afternoon as temperatures rise, but wind chill readings near -35C will return [Saturday night] until Monday morning,” the warning reads.

Attention to vulnerable people

The cold snap has sparked homeless advocates, especially after a snowy December that saw a series of storms severely impacted people on the south coast.

Numerous parishes, including Vancouver, Burnaby and Squamish opening emergency heat centers to deal with the weather.

In Vancouver, Union Gospel Mission says its 92-bed shelter will be open during the cold spell, with emergency vehicles taking to the roads of the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley to provide assistance to those in need.

“For people who are chronically unable to get a good night’s sleep, even if they can just think about the next steps and move on, it can really have an impact,” says Rachael Allen, a spokeswoman for the charity. “We are very happy to be hosts here and to provide this support.”

A woman in a cream sweatshirt gestures next to a bunk bed with blue sheets and pillows.
Rachael Allen, a spokeswoman for Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver, says the shelter is looking forward to taking in people who have been homeless during Vancouver’s cold spell. (Janella Hamilton/CBC)

Allen says that anecdotally, she feels that Metro Vancouver’s homelessness problem has gotten worse. It has been three years since the last Vancouver homeless census, which left 2,095 residents homeless.

“We are grateful that the homeless count will be held again in March,” she said.

“Because then we can actually get a better picture of how many people are struggling with homelessness and what we can do to help them.”


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