NEWS

Arctic blast forecast to chill West Coast

02/04/2014 12:46 EST | Updated 04/06/2014 05:59 EDT
A blast of Arctic air over B.C. has sent temperatures plunging along the West Coast, triggering an outflow warning from Prince Rupert to Whistler, which could be extended as far south as Victoria later this week.

According to Environment Canada, the Arctic ridge in place over the Interior is pushing out to the coast along inlets and valleys, and strong winds in some areas could lead to wind chill values approaching –20 C on Wednesday and Thursday.

With overnight temperatures on the South Coast set to plunge as low as –10 C, emergency shelters across the region are gearing up.

James Pratt, the extreme weather response coordinator for Metro Vancouver, says 384 additional spaces will be available this week at 17 different shelters.

"It's not a solution to homelessness of course, but it is a way to keep people safe and out of the cold on these kinds of extreme nights, because nobody should be out there when it's this cold," said Pratt.

Pratt says people can find the nearest shelter by dialing 211.

"These spaces are low barrier, which means there is not a lot of paperwork. There is just set up to get people in out of the cold for the night, get them some food, make sure they are dry and safe, and then hopefully they can find some other community resources through that as well," says Pratt.

North Shore ski hills seeking snow

Meanwhile, with blue skies in the forecast as well, the cold snap is not likely to translate into more snow on the mountains, and that means skiers and boarders will have to make do with the snow that is there.

The season is one of the worst on record for many resorts. At Cypress Mountain Resort, fewer than one third of the runs are open, and the snowmakers have been working hard.

"We've made more snow this year than all of last year already," says spokesman Joffry Koeman.

But despite the current conditions, Koeman says it's still too early to announce any potential compensation for pass-holders.

"Still plenty of time left, and like I said, we've had great conditions on our snowmaking runs."

Further east, Mount Seymour is giving pass-holders special days when they can bring a friend for free to make up for a late opening date.

"The season is lower snowfall than average, but we're doing what we can and I think everyone's recognized that," said spokeswoman Emmalee Brunt.

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