Hurricane force winds recorded near Tofino during December windstorm

Hurricane force winds recorded near Tofino during December windstorm
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WATCH: As thousands deal with the aftermath of Thursday’s powerful windstorm, many are left wondering what caused it. Ceilidh Millar reports. 

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Gale force winds, heavy surf pounding the shoreline and fallen trees – just some of the elements that caused major damage during a severe windstorm across Vancouver Island on Thursday.

Environment Canada says the windstorm was one of the worst to hit the coast since 2006.

“It was the trajectory of the low that made the impacts as strong as they were,” explained meteorologist Matt MacDonald with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The weather event is part of a parade of powerful storms to whack the West Coast over the last two weeks.

“Typically these storms remain off the coast of Vancouver Island and we only see the frontal systems move ashore,” MacDonald said. “But anytime the centre of these storms move inland, that’s when we’re in for these really strong wind events.”

Namaimo Airport received record-breaking winds at 85 km/h on Thursday.

The strongest gust was clocked south of Tofino at Lennard Island Lighthouse where winds peaked at 144 km/h.

“Those gusts are well into hurricane force winds,” MacDonald explained.

Some meteorologists say storm series of this type could be linked to climate change.

“We get locked into these persistent and active weather patterns,” MacDonald explained. “This recent storm cycle that we saw which lasted two weeks with about seven or eight storms in that whole series is an example of what we can expect with climate change.”

Despite its intensity, the storm didn’t stop wind surfers from heading out on the water in Jordan River.

Locals in Central Saanich shared their sadness online after an iconic Garry Oak Tree on Mt. Newton Crossroad was destroyed during the storm.

“It was pretty crazy to see all the trees falling everywhere,” said one person about the aftermath of the storm.

“I’m from here and those were the biggest waves I’ve ever seen going over the breakwater in Victoria,” explained another.

With clean-up from Thursday’s storm underway, crews are bracing for yet another storm this weekend – but will it be as intense?

“This storm is not going to be anywhere as big as what we saw yesterday,” MacDonald said.

All are hoping for a more peaceful week ahead – just in time for Christmas.

Ceilidh MillarCeilidh Millar

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