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The first snowfall of the winter could briefly blanket parts of Metro Vancouver this week.

Environment Canada says wet snow is possible as a strong Pacific storm barrels the southern coastline.

In a special weather statement issued at 4 :30 p.m. on New Year's Day, the weather agency said the storm is expected to hit B.C.'s South Coast on Thursday.

Vancouver Island will see precipitation late in the morning, and rain and strong winds will develop over the Lower Mainland in the afternoon, the statement suggests.

When the storm starts, temperatures could be cold enough on higher elevations of the region that precipitation may fall as snow.

Warm air is expected to move in by Thursday evening, and the snow will change to rain.

"The exception may be Whistler and the Sea to Sky Highway from Squamish to Whistler where snow could persist longer," the statement said.

Heavy rain and strong wind is expected Friday as well.

The areas expected to see the most rainfall are the central coast, north and west Vancouver Island, Squamish, northern parts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

Environment Canada warns that snow accumulation increases the chance of localized flooding.

The agency also issued alerts elsewhere in B.C.

Special weather statements are in effect in the following regions, listed alphabetically:

  • 100 Mile
  • Arrow Lakes-Slocan Lake
  • Bulkley Valley and the Lakes District
  • Cariboo
  • Central Coast – coastal sections
  • East Columbia
  • East Vancouver Island
  • Fraser Valley
  • Greater Victoria
  • Howe Sound
  • Inland Vancouver Island
  • Kinbasket
  • Kootenay Lake
  • McGregor
  • Metro Vancouver
  • North Columbia
  • North Thompson
  • North Vancouver Island
  • Okanagan Valley
  • Prince George
  • Shuswap
  • South Thompson
  • Stuart-Nechako
  • Sunshine Coast
  • West Columbia
  • West Kootenay
  • West Vancouver Island
  • Whistler
  • Williston
  • Yellowhead

A snowfall warning is also in effect for inland sections of the Central Coast due to the storm. The alert estimates the total amount of snowfall to be between 15 and 25 centimetres.

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