Community notices

Are you ready for wet & cold winter weather at SFU?

January 18, 2021

By Samantha Tester
Last updated on Dec. 2, 2021.

Burnaby Mountain is 370 metres (1,210 ft) above sea level, making it one of the highest spots outside the North Shore, in the Metro Vancouver area. With increasing altitude, temperatures fall, so it is always a few degrees cooler on the Burnaby campus.

John Clague, SFU professor emeritus in the Department of Earth Science says, “In our temperate climate, our average winter temperatures are three to five degrees, but on Burnaby Mountain, temperatures could be zero or one, you can go from rain to snow really fast.”

Forecasters predict colder temperatures & wetter conditions
For the second year in a row, meteorologists have predicted that BC will experience a La Niña winter - a complex weather pattern resulting from variations in ocean temperatures. The opposite of the more commonly known, El Niño, La Niña is known to bring colder temperatures and more rainfall, which could turn into snow very quickly on Burnaby Mountain.

“La Niña typically affects colder oceans waters, particularly in the tropical part of the Pacific,” says Clague. “Those colder waters typically result in cooler conditions in the atmosphere.”

When La Niña is in effect the chance of snow over the winter months is greater than in other years.

“La Niña typically lasts one to two years before shifting back to an El Niño state.” Clague says.

Stay safe during snowy weather
Burnaby Mountain gets more than 50cm of snow every year, mostly in December through March. Make sure you are dressed weather appropriate before heading to campus this winter. Grab those boots and zip up those big, puffy warm coats before you head out!

If you are driving to the Burnaby campus, make sure you have winter tires on your vehicle and a snow scraper and emergency kit in your trunk. When there is snow in the forecast, check the SFU road report to ensure conditions are safe. If you’re taking transit, check for the latest commuting conditions. Information about any campus closures will be shared through the Snap app, on Twitter and

Snow & ice removal
To prevent ice on Burnaby campus, Facilities staff spray a salt-brine solution to clear roadways. At any given time as many as five trucks, four tractors and one loader could be clearing ice and snow when a full snow storm is underway. Once the roads are plowed, a salt-sand combination is used to prevent ice from reoccurring and minimize slippery conditions.
If you see any areas on Burnaby campus that need to be sanded/salted or cleared call 778-782-3582.

Know before you go
Stay connected and up to date on the latest information.

Check for how to prepare for wintry weather conditions and SFU Road Report for driving conditions. Follow @TransLink for transit alerts.

Download SFU Snap for alerts and enable notifications and follow us on Twitter @SFU for additional information and updates, including potential campus closures.

More winter safety information at: