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Powerful storm moving across southern Interior today, tonight

FILE PHOTO - More snow is expected in B.C. Interior mountain passes through today, Dec. 20, and tonight with strong, gusty winds expected in the South Thompson and Okanagan.
Image Credit: Contributed/B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Jess M. Cote
December 20, 2018 - 9:28 AM

The last day of fall is going to be an extremely stormy one in the southwest Interior.

Environment Canada has issued special weather statements for the Okanagan and South Thompson this morning, Dec. 20, as an approaching low pressure system tracks inland across the B.C. interior.

The weather system is expected to produce southerly winds at 50 km/h gusting to 80 this afternoon. As the low passes, winds will ease to southerly at 30 km/h, gusting to 50, or shift to westerly at 30 km/h gusting to 50.

Wind warnings may be issued later today for some specific regions, forecasters say.

Meanwhile, driving on the Interior's high mountain highways continues to be a challenge.

Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and Merritt. The same weather system is already generating snow at higher elevations and the snow is expected to intensify this morning and may even change to rain or snow mixed with rain this afternoon before turning back to straight up snow this evening. The warning calls for total snowfall amounts of up to 30 centimetres by tomorrow morning.

The weather office has also issued snowfall warnings for Highway 3 from Princeton to Hope and from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass. The Hope-Princeton could receive up to 25 cm of snow by tomorrow morning, while the Paulson Summit is expecting 20 to 30 cm by tomorrow morning.

The Trans-Canada Highway between Eagle Pass and Rogers Pass could get 20 to 30 cm by tomorrow morning.

As much as 15 centimetres of snow is forecast for the Peace River and surrounding areas of northeast B.C.

Rainfall warnings are posted for Howe Sound, the Fraser Valley and Fraser Canyon, with Environment Canada saying 50 millimetres could drench those regions by tomorrow, while wind warnings cover the entire south coast. Gusts of 90 to 100 km/h are forecast and powerful winds have already prompted BC Ferries to cancel numerous sailings to and from Tsawwassen, Horseshoe Bay, Powell River and the Gulf Islands.

For the very latest on weather warnings in B.C. go to Environment Canada's website here.

For the latest road conditions check out the Drive B.C. website here.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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