As Family Day windstorm approaches, overnight warming shelters to open in Victoria

As Family Day windstorm approaches, overnight warming shelters to open in Victoria
Rock Bay Landing and St. John the Divine church will open overnight warming shelters Monday, Feb. 20 due to an incoming windstorm.

The City of Victoria will activate an overnight warming shelter in response to a windstorm expected to hit B.C.’s South Coast Monday night.

While it’s usually freezing cold weather that triggers Victoria’s Extreme Weather Response, the city said it is activating the overnight shelter at St. John the Divine Church in response to a high wind warning issued by Environment Canada, despite an expected overnight temperature of 5C.

The warning is in effect for Greater Victoria and western Vancouver Island, while less urgent special weather statements were issued Monday morning for the inland and eastern parts of the Island as well as the Southern Gulf Islands.

Environment Canada says westerly winds of 70 km/h gusting to 100 near Juan De Fuca Strait are expected due to a low-pressure system moving from the Gulf of Alaska into central B.C.

“Gusty winds can damage soft shelters, tents and awnings at outdoor events. High winds may result in power outages and fallen tree branches,” the weather agency said in its warning.

The warming centre at St, John the Divine Church, 1611 Quadra St., will be open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., and the city says the Victoria Cool Aid Society will be operating an additional overnight shelter at Rock Bay Landing, 535 Ellice St., from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Anyone needing a warm place to stay is advised to phone ahead to reserve a mat at 250-383-1951.

The city activates warming centres during extreme weather when the life, health, and safety of residents are at risk and there are no other options available to shelter from the elements.

All residents are encouraged to take precautions and stay indoors as much as possible during the windstorm.

Tonight’s wind comes ahead of what is forecast to be an unseasonably cold week for the region. Environment Canada is predicting cold arctic outflow air to settle in over the region on Wednesday through Friday, with highs around 3C and lows to plunge as low as -6 overnight Thursday, a full eight degrees below seasonal for the Victoria International Airport weather station.

There’s also a chance of late-February flurries over the course of the week for the South Island, while snow is in the forecast further north.

Jeff LawrenceJeff Lawrence

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