A rare combination of strong winds and high tides is set to sweep most regions of Vancouver Island on Wednesday, which could lead to some minor flooding and power outages.
Wind warnings have been issued for North and East Vancouver Island, as well as Greater Victoria Wednesday, where winds could reach up to 90 kilometres.
“We’re in a very active weather pattern for Western British Columbia,” said Brian Proctor, meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“In general, the winds will be picking up in the afternoon, becoming stronger and really holding in the evening hours,” he told CHEK News Wednesday.
The strong winds are coming at the same time that high tides are expected to reach Greater Victoria and the Island’s West Coast communities, including Tofino and Ucluelet.
“One of the really interesting things associated with this pattern is we’re getting these winds really increasing at the same time as the highest tides coming in, so these two features are phasing, which is going to produce pretty significant storm surges,” said Proctor.
Recipe for power outages
While tall waves may be an issue for some coastal communities, Proctor expects the strong winds to be the largest concern for Islanders.
“It’s definitely going to be breezy, there’s definitely going to be power outages, but it’s really going to be those [outages that are a concern], except for if you’re in one of those really exposed areas where we see more of the storm surge potential,” he said.
On Christmas Day, nearly 30,000 BC Hydro customers lost power due to wind, many of whom lived on northern Vancouver Island or nearby Gulf Islands.
BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk says crews are still finishing repairs in some of the more remote areas of northern Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands, meaning if another outage occurs Wednesday night crews will already be in some remote areas.
He adds that other crews are on standby because of the storm.
“We make sure people are on standby, people are aware they might have to go out tonight,” said Olynyk.
He adds that it’s helpful if residents are prepared for potential outages as well.
“Make sure you have fresh batteries, batteries for your flashlight, your cellphone is all charged up so you can get information from the website for outages,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s all up to Mother Nature.”
Proctor notes that this week’s storm is typical for winter on the West Coast, and that wet and active weather systems are important to keep reservoirs topped up.