Updated: 4:30 p.m.
The province is warning motorists to prepare for "major highway closures" this weekend, as more storm systems work their way towards B.C.'s South Coast.
Ahead of the incoming weather, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced it will proactively close the Duffey Lake Road portion of Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet, as well as Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton on Saturday afternoon. The exact time and duration of these precautionary closures will depend on the weather, the province explained in a release Friday afternoon. Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon also remains closed.
The decision comes following the recent flooding and mudslides that have devastated parts of B.C.
"The highway infrastructure in these areas is extremely vulnerable following recent storms, and more heavy rain in the forecast poses an additional risk," the release read.
The province said it plans to re-evaluate all three of the highway closures Sunday morning, and reopen the routes to traffic "when it is safe to do so." Updates will be posted on drivebc.ca.
Pemberton's forecast is calling for snow beginning in the morning and changing to rain in the afternoon on Saturday, according to Environment Canada. About five centimetres of snow and five to 10 millimetres of rain are expected to fall throughout the day. More precipitation is expected overnight Saturday, with an additional 20 to 30mm of rain predicted to fall. Periods of rain are expected Sunday.
The B.C. River Forecast Centre issued a flood watch for the South Coast, including Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish, on Thursday.
In light of the recent weather events, the Sea to Sky RCMP on Friday morning, Nov. 26, issued a release informing drivers about what what to expect when travelling through the Duffey Lake Road area this weekend.
Police said there have been “many changes to the highway systems within British Columbia and particularly to the Duffey Road Mountain Pass of Highway 99” in the last week. Multiple agencies have been working “24/7” to clear the road, keep it safe and maintained, and identify issues for the public to know when they come to the area, police said, including:
- The need for winter tires on Highway 99. Once you hit Lions Bay coming from Vancouver, you are required to have winter tires.
- Your loads on your vehicles need to be secured either in trucks, trailers, or on your vehicles.
- Please ensure your vehicle has the capacity to tow your trailers and that the trailers are in working conditions for winter driving.
- There is restricted commercial traffic on Highway 99.
- There is no cell service on the Duffey between Pemberton and Lillooet.
- Due to communication limitations, it can take emergency vehicles some time to get to you.
- Please pack supplies in your vehicle such as extra clothing, food, etc. in case you are stuck in the area.
- Leisure hiking and travel in the area is not allowed at this stage and this includes access to Joffre Lakes Provincial Park.
- Coming over the Duffey towards Pemberton at the Joffre Lakes Provincial Park section, the downgrade is steep and police have found vehicle brakes overheating and drivers needing to change to lower gear.
- At times there may be closures on Highway 99 or long delays, so check drivebc.ca prior to travelling.
- There are limited services from Whistler to Lillooet in the later evening and overnight hours and this includes fuelling stations. There are still current restrictions of 30 litres of gasoline for fuelling on the Pemberton side of the Duffey.
- Please do not call the Pemberton or Lillooet RCMP for travel restrictions, but refer to gov.bc.ca/gov/content/natural-disaster/support/restrictions.