UPDATE: Chilliwack schools closed Friday, motorists warned

Motorists navigate through drifting snow along Evans Road Thursday morning. - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
Motorists navigate through drifting snow along Evans Road Thursday morning.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Public schools in Chilliwack are closed and motorists are being advised to stay off the roads as an ice storm bears down on the Fraser Valley Friday.

Environment Canada is predicting the snow will change to extended periods of freezing rain this afternoon and tonight.

A winter storm warning remains in effect, with blowing snow and snowfall amounts of between five and 10 cm.

The major concern, however, is freezing rain. Freezing rain occurs when precipitation falls through a band of cold air too shallow to allow it to turn to snow. The rain freezes on contact, glazing roads and accumulating on power lines and tree branches.

Environment Canada is predicting "10 to 20 mm of ice accretion likely."

Because of that potential, the City of Chilliwack is advising motorists to stay off the roads.

In a statement posted on the city's website, the city states: "In the event of a freezing rain weather event, the City of Chilliwack Emergency Program Coordinator advises residents to please stay off the roads and ensure emergency preparedness kits are up to date. If staying at home is not possible, please make appropriate arrangements to ensure your comfort and safety."

City officials are also asking Chilliwack residents to dig out the catch basins around their properties, and try to keep them clear of snow and debris. Call the city engineering department at 604-793-2907 to find them if you're having trouble.

For safety reasons and in case of emergency Chilliwack Fire Department is now asking for residents' cooperation in ensuring fire hydrants are clear of snow and other debris.

With all the intensive shovelling efforts this week, some homeowners may not realize they have covered or impeded access to fire hydrants on their property, said fire officials Thursday.

"If you do have a hydrant on your residential or business property, clear an area approximately three metres around the entire hydrant with a pathway to the road or sidewalk," said Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Ullyot.

The City has also cancelled curbside garbage and recycling pick up because of the conditions.

Schools in Chilliwack will remain closed today, however secondary schools are open for textbook pick up. The University of the Fraser Valley is also closed.

Watch for more updates as they become available.

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