11/01/2013 17:51 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 10:52 EST

Big B.C. storm brewing tonight

Strong winds, heavy rain and snow for the mountain passes will begin tonight and last through Saturday for much of southern B.C., says CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.

An intense low-pressure system is bringing the punch and is currently on track to come ashore near the South Coast for tomorrow, but rain will begin this evening — likely around 7 p.m. PT for Vancouver. 

Rainfall warnings are in place for Metro Vancouver and western Fraser Valley for 50 mm to 80 mm, with the largest amounts towards the North Shore.

The system will also bring in cooler air, dropping snow levels to around 900 m. Fifteen to 25 cm of the white stuff is expected in the Chilcotin region (under a snowfall warning) through Saturday, with 5 to 10 cm for the highway passes tonight and another 10  to 20 cm for the passes tomorrow. Whistler will also receive about 10 cm.

Winds will also be strong, with westerlies gusting to 50 km/h for Vancouver through to tomorrow morning before switching from the north by tomorrow evening. The winds will usher in cooler air for Sunday into Monday with clearing conditions but an arctic chill in the air. So the fresh snow should stick around at higher elevations for early next week. Skiers rejoice.

Catch Johanna's full forecast on CBC News Vancouver at 5 and 6.