VICTORIA -- The B.C. government is advising drivers to avoid all non-essential travel on three major Vancouver Island highways until further notice.

With high winds and blowing snow forecast through into Thursday, the transportation ministry is telling drivers to stay off of Highway 1 between Nanaimo and Victoria; Highway 4 west to Taylor River; and Highway 19 north to Tsitika (approximately 100 km north of Campbell River).

An earlier travel advisory remains in effect for Highways 14, 17 and 18.

The ministry says it will reassess conditions on Thursday morning.

Those who must travel are asked to use extreme caution. All motorists are encouraged to plan ahead and drive according to weather and road conditions, slowing down when they encounter bad weather or limited visibility.

The province is reminding drivers that winter tire regulations are in effect, and drivers should ensure their vehicles have tires with the mountain/snowflake or mud and snow (M+S) symbol when travelling on designated routes.

BC Ferries cancelled all sailings on major routes after 3 p.m. Wednesday because of forecasted hurricane force winds.