Get Ready for Winter Season at SFU Burnaby

November 09, 2023

By: Dincee Caluag, Communications Officer

Simon Fraser University – Burnaby campus sits on Burnaby Mountain, which is one of Metro Vancouver’s highest spots. With increasing altitudes, temperatures can quickly fall and give cooler, colder weather conditions than other areas in the lower mainland.

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.” Additionally, severe weather like snow, hail, blizzards, high winds or heavy rain can happen without warning and can affect your safety in different ways.

Risks of winter weather and snow storms

Prolonged exposure to extreme cold can impose various hazards and risks. It’s always best to stay indoors during severe weather to prevent slip & falls and exposing yourself to extreme cold. Should you need to head out, be prepared for different hazards you may encounter:

  • Snow, rain, and ice can cause transportation challenges and increase the risk of slip and falls.
  • It’s easy to get cold quickly if you are outside in wet, cold, and windy weather. Exposure to cold temperatures can lead to frost bite or hypothermia.
  • There can be increased risk of flooding due to melting snow.
  • Power outages can disrupt communication, the heat in your home and access to food and water.

Winter in B.C. warmer, wetter; but does not mean winter conditions will be less severe

Due to El Nino, average temperatures throughout winter and spring in the province will be warmer and wetter. However winter snow events, cold spells, and precipitation are still expected and may occur in ways they haven’t before. Always be alert and prepared for changing and severe weather conditions.  

Be prepared before the first snow fall

Burnaby Mountain gets more than 50 cm of snow every year, mostly in December through March. Before heading to campus, make sure you are dressed weather appropriate to protect  you from sudden weather changes. Grab a pair of insulated boots, zip up those big, puffy warm coats, wear gloves and a toque as you head out!

If you are driving to the Burnaby campus, make sure you have winter tires on your vehicle, a snow scraper, and a winter 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 public transit, check for the latest commuting conditions. Information about any campus closures will also be shared through Snap app, Twitter (X), and

Snow & ice removal

At the onset of winter conditions on Burnaby campus, Facilities staff spray a brine solution to reduce ice buildup on roads and pathways. At any given time as many as six snow plows, five 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. Facilities prioritizes accessible entrances and pathways across campus first. Please check the priority snow removal map for the paths and learn more about our processes at Snow & Ice Removal Services.

If you see any areas on Burnaby campus that need to be sanded/salted or cleared, submit a request or 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. 
  • Download SFU Snap for alerts and enable notifications.
  • Follow us on X (Twitter) @SFU for additional information and updates, including potential campus closures.
  • Follow @TransLink for transit alerts.