Extreme Snow & Cold

What to do during extreme snow fall

Public Safety

The first priority is public safety during a snow incident. The snow removal teams work closely with their colleagues in the Fire Department, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the British Columbia Ambulance Service. Crews share 'real time' road condition information and react to dangerous conditions within the framework of the overall plan.
Maple Ridge has an integrated plan to deal with snowfall based on Policy 9.08 entitled "Snow Removal and Ice Control on Municipal Roadways," which was established in 2009. The plan was developed in conjunction with all relevant agencies providing services in our community. Learn more about how this plan works and some of the ways you can help crews when they are out there clearing the roads.

In most cases, weather systems generating large snowfalls follow a predictable pattern. Typically, we'll experience a period of rain from Pacific storm fronts and then the sky will clear as cooler air pushes into the lower mainland from the interior. The cold air inflows, as the meteorologist will report, result in significant drops in the temperature (made even worst by strong winds). While we love the clear blue skies, we know that when the next storm front comes in, precipitation from the Pacific weather systems combined with the cold air has the potential to generate significant snowfall amounts. Based on forecasts and conditions Maple Ridge may salt the roads prior to a predicted snowfall to reduce the build up of ice.

How to Prepare

  • Review Before an Emergency for general information on how to prepare.
  • Build or restock your Emergency Preparedness Kit.
  • Add the following supplies to your Emergency Kit:
    • Salt or use environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways
    • Sand to improve traction
    • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
    • Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry wood for your fireplace or wood burning stove
    • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm
  • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep an emergency kit in your vehicle.
  • Bring pets/companions animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
  • Check the following items on your car:
    • Antifreeze
    • Battery and ignition system
    • Brakes
    • Exhaust system
    • Fuel and air filters
    • Heater and defroster
    • Lights and hazard lights
    • Oil
    • Thermostat
    • Windshield wiper equipment
    • Install good winter tires
  • Know the terms used to describe changing winter weather conditions.

During Extreme Snow or Cold Storms

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow.
  • Keep dry.
  • Signs of frostbite: Occurs when the skin and body tissue just beneath it freezes. Loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities. (fingers, toes, ears, face, tip of the nose).
  • Signs of Hypothermia: Dangerously low body temperature. Uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion.
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary and let someone know your destination, route and expected arrival.

After the Storm

  • If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours or if you do not have adequate supplies to stay warm in your home overnight, you may want to go to a designated public shelter if you can get there safely. Listen to the radio or follow social media to locate the closest shelter.
  • Bring any personal items that you would need to spend the night (such as toiletries, medicines). Take precautions when traveling to the shelter. Dress warmly in layers, wear boots, mittens, and a hat.
  • Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.


You may have noticed strips of a white substance on the pavement in the morning on your way to work. This stuff is called liquid anti-icing and it is often done at night while we are all asleep. The product used is road salt dissolved in water to create a brine.

When to Salt

When you see municipal vehicles salting the road, this is a good indicator that it's time to salt your driveway and sidewalk. Keep in mind that the salt is corrosive and can affect the health of some pets, so make sure you read the instructions on the package before using it. A salted driveway and sidewalk is much easier to shovel the next day than one where the snow was able to become packed down and turn to ice.