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Snow covers the ground as a person bundled up for the cold weather is silhouetted while walking past palm trees on the waterfront in New Westminster, B.C., on Dec. 28.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Environment Canada lifted all but a handful of the warnings that covered British Columbia on Thursday as frigid arctic air blanketed the province this week, but it has posted new storm watches for another system that was headed toward the north coast.

Environment Canada says the winter storm was forecast to cross the Gulf of Alaska and intensify as it neared the north coast late on Friday. Stewart, Terrace, Kitimat and several other communities across the north coast were expected to see snowfall of 20 to 50 centimetres through the weekend and similar watches were posted for B.C.’s central coast.

“Rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult over some locations,” it warned. “If you must travel, keep others informed of your schedule and destination and carry an emergency kit and mobile phone.”

The new watches were in addition to arctic outflow and extreme cold warnings posted earlier for the Fraser Valley and inland north and central coasts.

Wind chill values between -20 and -30 C were forecast while an extreme cold warning for Yoho and Kootenay parks in southeast B.C. called for wind chill values below -35 C until the weekend.

The south coast was digging out from snow that blanketed Metro Vancouver and southern Vancouver Island early Thursday, creating challenging conditions on roads and bridges throughout those regions and slowing transit services in many areas.

Snowfall warnings were lifted shortly after dawn as the storm eased, but Vancouver International Airport was reporting departure delays through the morning and urged travellers to check with their airline. Most departure delays had been erased by noon, the airport website showed.

Elsewhere, Canada Post suspended mail delivery in Nanaimo, Ladysmith and across Gabriola Island on Wednesday due to heavy snow. “Delivery will resume once it is deemed safe to do so,” said the Canada Post website, which had not been updated by midday Thursday.

Drive BC, the province’s online travel notification system, had a travel advisory in effect for part of the day on Highway 1 on Vancouver Island between Nanaimo and Duncan due to the heavy snow.

Sub-zero conditions also created the potential for ice jams in southern B.C. along two stretches of the Similkameen River between Princeton and Keremeos. The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen had issued evacuation alerts for five properties due to the threat of flooding.

A similar warning posted Saturday by the Town of Smithers and the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako was rescinded Wednesday as a threat of ice jams on the Bulkley River eased, but town officials said the situation in the northwestern community remained uncertain and would be monitored closely.

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