Polar vortex could lead to record-breaking cold on Vancouver Island

Polar vortex could lead to record-breaking cold on Vancouver Island
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WatchArctic air from a polar vortex could lead to record-breaking cold on Vancouver Island. Tess van Straaten reports.

Looking at the cherry blossoms in bloom in downtown Victoria, it’s hard to believe a polar vortex will cause temperatures to plunge well below freezing all week.

It’s the same arctic chill that hit the Prairies with temperatures close to -50 Celsius over the weekend and the polar vortex may result in record-breaking cold on Vancouver Island, as well.

Victoria is forecast to dip down to -6 and -7 on Wednesday and Thursday.

The record lows for those days are -5.8 and -5.5, respectively.

It’s forecast to be even cooler inland and at higher elevations, which could see double-digit negatives, and that’s before wind chill is factored in.

“Some of those northeast winds from Greater Victoria, the Gulf Islands, and all the way to the Fraser Valley gusting 60, 70, 80 kilometres an hour and I wouldn’t be surprised if the wind chill reaches -15 for the City of Victoria,” says Weather Network meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.

With shelters full, and the emergency cold weather protocol cancelled this year due to COVID, it’s a serious concern for people living on the street.

“It’s very dangerous,” says Our Place CEO Julian Daly. “Just being outside in those temperatures, people can die. I don’t want to be too dramatic, but people can, and frostbite is a real concern.”

That’s why a coat donation from Victory Barber & Brand on Monday morning couldn’t have come at a better time.

Victory’s ‘Cuts for Coats’ campaign quadrupled its goal, bringing in more than 400 jackets.

As a result, Our Place is now benefiting in addition to the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.

“The community just came forward in such a big way,” says Josh Van Leeuwen of Victory Barber & Brand. “I think people really recognize there’s a lot of hardship this year, it’s a pandemic winter, it’s very difficult out here, it’s very cold.”

And it’s not just cold. Snow could be next — possibly a dusting this week and then all that cold air hits Pacific moisture.

“I do suspect once that Pacific onshore flow kicks back in, we’ll be looking at a more significant snowfall into early next week,” Hamilton warns.

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Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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