Alexandra Pope, staff writer
November 21, 2011 — Temperatures plunged across British Columbia Saturday as Arctic air flowed in from the Prairies, prompting officials in Vancouver to issue a cold alert for the city's homeless.
The temperature in Vancouver was sitting at -3°C Saturday morning -- well below seasonal values for this time of year.
Outreach workers urged the homeless to take advantage of additional shelter spaces throughout the Greater Vancouver Area.
Vancouver's extreme weather response plan kicks in when snow begins to accumulate or when temperatures dip below freezing.
Much of the B.C. coast was feeling winter's bite Saturday. Environment Canada warned of the potential for heavy snow and wind chill values in the low minus 20s for the North Coast through Sunday.
Brian Dillon, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, explains that the cold weather is the result of Arctic air in the Prairies filtering down through the valleys.
Several B.C. communities, including Victoria, Clinton, Cranbrook, Port Alberni and Squamish, actually saw new record daily lows over the weekend.
The cold comes on the heels of a snowy system. Many Vancouverites woke up to heavy, wet snow blanketing their cars, lawns and driveways on Friday morning.
“We had about a centimetre of snow accumulate at the Vancouver Airport,” says Dayna Vettese, another Weather Network meteorologist.
It wasn't a lot of snow, but it was enough catch some people by surprise. The weather caused minor problems with bus trolley systems on Robson Street and University Boulevard, but overall there were no major transit disruptions.
While parts of Vancouver Island and the lower mainland only got a light dusting of snow, it's been piling up in parts of the Interior. Whistler Mountain opened its first runs of the 2011 snow season on Friday, six days ahead of schedule.
Meanwhile, conditions have been treacherous on BC's Coquihalla Highway. A major snowfall stopped hundreds of vehicles in both directions early in the day on Thursday.