Travel on the Trans-Canada Highway in the Revelstoke area this busy Christmas holiday travel weekend is shaping up to be a nightmare, and every authority responsible for travel is sounding the alarm, warning travelers to take heed of the big storm bearing down on the region. In Revelstoke, residents are bracing for a direct hit from the “atmospheric river.”
I spy with my little eye an incoming Atmospheric River (AR) for late Thursday & Thursday night!
Heavy rain & wind for the south coast including #Vancouver.
— ECCC Weather British Columbia (@ECCCWeatherBC) December 19, 2019
Heavy snow over the past week has loaded up avalanche paths, prompting a Friday, Dec. 20 avalanche control closure between Revelstoke and Golden, starting at 4 a.m. and scheduled to end at 1 p.m. PST.
— Rocky Mtn District (@TranBCRockyMtn) December 20, 2019
In addition, Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Revelstoke area, calling for a whopping 40 to 75 centimetres of snow between Friday and Saturday at noon, highest in the passes.
“A Pacific frontal system crossing B.C. will stall across the Southern Interior tonight,” Environment Canada said in a statement. “Snow at times heavy will persist through Friday. Snowfall amounts of 40 to 75 cm can be expected by Saturday afternoon.”
Higher traffic volumes, poor storm road conditions and avalanche control lead to delays.
Avalanche danger in the backcountry
Avalanche Canada’s Revelstoke-area avalanche danger ratings for Friday are “high” from alpine to valley. “An intense winter storm is delivering heavy snowfall and strong winds. Widespread avalanche activity is expected. Avoid avalanche terrain,” writes the forecaster, posted 4 p.m. avalanche.ca is the source and your starting point for avalanche forecasting and information.
⚠️ Avalanche danger will be elevated to HIGH for many regions in BC and western Alberta for the next few days as a major storm hits the region, depositing intense precipitation on an already tricky snowpack ⚠️
Find out how your region will be impacted👇 https://t.co/nOHdIy5sFh pic.twitter.com/iNk7opZZZj
— Avalanche Canada (@avalancheca) December 19, 2019
Environment Canada is warning of reduced visibility and sudden changes creating hazardous driving conditions: “Rapidly accumulating snow will make travel difficult.”
Even Premier John Horgan was pressed into service, tweeting out this notice:
Looks like snow ahead for much of southern BC heading into this weekend. Don’t be like these guys and get caught unaware. Check @DriveBC for all the latest highway conditions. https://t.co/BAKT4Z6Rqh pic.twitter.com/Zpy2rkm1a5
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) December 19, 2019
You’ve been warned. Revelstoke is between two challenging mountain passes, Eagle and Rogers, and they are no joke in these conditions. When things go south, expect hours-long waits and basically no service at all — there was a 10-hour closure after a fatal MVI this Monday, Dec. 16. Thinking of driving here or through this weekend? Think about adjusting your plans, and for Santa’s sake, check drivebc.ca before you go. Please slow down — way down below the posted limit — when driving during poor highway conditions: these conditions create a likelihood of a highway tragedy in the Revy area this weekend.
Is your vehicle up to winter regulation? For info on winter travel safety and B.C. requirements, see shiftintowinter.ca, the official B.C. government website developed as a guide for safe winter driving.
Update, Friday noon
As predicted, it’s a mess on local highways. There are avalanche control closures on the Trans-Canada Highway both east and west of Revelstoke today. It’s still snowing heavily in Revelstoke. When warmer, heavy precipitation systems like this come through, the avalanche control and traffic situation changes minute-to-minute and there are no guarantees. Be prepared, check DriveBC for road updates and good luck.
This is the webcam image at the Jack McDonald snowshed, between Revelstoke and Rogers Pass, at noon on Friday. That’s the Trans-Canada Highway under there. pic.twitter.com/25Ugt7QFZn
— Revelstoke Mountaineer (@RevelstokeMTNR) December 20, 2019