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Snow, cold, in Western Canada send icicles through the heart of Canadian travel plans

Vancouver, Toronto, Victoria airports all dealing with disruptions
A man clears snow from on a vehicle as snow falls in Vancouver, on Sunday, December 18, 2022. Temperature are dropping to dangerously cold extremes in some regions of British Columbia as snowfall send tires spinning in parts of Metro Vancouver. Environment Canada says wind chill values are dropping near -40 C or colder in the Chilcotin, Cariboo, Prince George and other central B.C. communities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The woes for travellers stranded by heavy snow at Vancouver’s airport are spreading across the country and Toronto Pearson International Airport is now advising of an approaching storm that could derail things further.

A statement from the Vancouver International Airport says the “congestion” caused by 27 centimetres of snow Tuesday will be immediately addressed by limiting arriving international flights for about 48 hours.

The limit, affecting 17 airlines and approximately 30 flights, is to lift at 5 a.m. Friday.

At Pearson, officials are advising travellers to check with their airline because airport operations could be affected by a storm forecast to arrive Thursday and potentially cause a flash freeze or blizzard conditions the next day.

Ripple effects from the disruptions in Vancouver and extreme cold in Alberta have already created challenges for holiday season travellers in airports across the country.

WestJet is offering full refunds to passengers choosing to proactively cancel their trips while Air Canada says travellers should rebook online if their flight has been scrubbed.

The statement from Vancouver International Airport acknowledges that the halting of international arrivals until two days before Christmas will come as a blow.

“We fully recognize the impact this will have on individuals and families over the holiday season. However, the congestion caused by Tuesday’s storm events make this action necessary,” it says.

The International Civil Aviation Organization says two runways at Victoria International Airport are to remain shut until 6 p.m. due to snow.

The airport was one of the hardest hit by Tuesday’s storm, receiving 36 centimetres of snow.

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