Chilliwack schools remain closed; more miserable weather coming

Already weather-beleaguered community of Chilliwack is bracing for freezing rain and strong winds on top of back-to-back snowfall.

Schools across Chilliwack were closed Thursday as the region braced for the next wave of miserable weather.

Environment Canada has issued a “winter storm warning” for the Fraser Valley (upgraded from the storm watch issued earlier this morning), with the possibility of another 10 to 15 cm of snow coming as early as Friday, coupled with freezing rain and strong winds.

The snowstorm is expected to followed by warmer temperatures and rain.

But so far it does not look as bad as it was prior to the storm of 2009, which caused devastating flooding in Greendale and landslides in the Chilliwack River Valley.

“The current conditions in Chilliwack are not the same as they were in 2009,”  said said city spokesperson Starlee Renton, adding that the ground is not completely frozen and there’s less snow and rain in the forecast.

City staff are getting ready for the big snow melt by servicing the drainage pump stations twice a day.

“Once we get away from dealing with snow, the crews will begin to check drainage culverts and watercourses to ensure they are as free flowing as possible and we will have crews around town clearing blocked catch basins,” said Renton.

Nobody knows precisely when things will start to change.

“At this point in time it is uncertain how much snow will fall and when the snow changes to freezing rain,” the weather office said in a statement released Thursday morning.

Arctic outflow conditions continue, with blowing snow and drifting in open areas, but winds have subsided.

Most Chilliwack roads are open, including Banford which was reopened at around 1:30 p.m.

Transit information is at www.chilliwack.com/transit. Click on the BC Transit winter weather transit reports link. All bus runs are in service but are running late due to the road conditions.

That comes in stark contrast to Wednesday, when at one point all major north-south routes were closed because of blowing snow, downed power lines or abandoned vehicles.

The Chilliwack school district announced early Thursday morning that all its schools, including daycare, pre-school and community use, would remain closed.

The district had opened its schools Wednesday morning, only to reverse that decision by 10 a.m.

The University of the Fraser Valley has also closed campuses for the third straight day.

Garbage collection in Chilliwack has also been cancelled because of unsafe conditions in back alleys and side streets. The Bailey Landfill, which was closed, has since to re-opened.

Environment Canada says rain is coming this weekend. But before that, more snow.

“On Friday there will be a transition to mild and moist Pacific air over the south coast due to a southwesterly flow. A significant snowfall of 10 to 15 cm is possible for inland sections along with several hours of freezing rain later in the day.”

Stay tuned to www.theprogress.com for updates throughout the day.