Bitter cold arctic air has Vancouver Island howling.
“We have dry super dense cold air streaming through fjords and valleys coming down the Fraser Canyon and Valley and screaming over to the Island. And it’s blustery, hitting 80-kilometre gusts an hour at Race Rocks and Trial Island,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan.
The wind chill from an arctic front is invading the northwest Pacific Ocean, but it’s not quite reaching record-breaking daily low temperatures.
“Whether it’s Hope, Abbotsford, Victoria, Nanaimo, it’s still kind of in the top 10 of the coldest, but not the coldest,” said Castellan.
The cold weather has prompted Victoria to open both daytime and overnight emergency shelters.
“The weather today is a lot windier and colder than we expected, we thought it was going to be above zero. So we just made the call this morning to open at noon,” said Tanya Patterson, the city of Victoria’s emergency program coordinator.
Waiting for those currently unhoused, and available until Friday are blankets, chairs, mats, hot drinks, and snacks.
Back outside the “polar plunge” is running a chill down the spine of Vancouver Island trees.
“Our native trees are pretty well adapted to this. But those introduced trees, they’re the ones that are going to be more affected by the cold weather,” said Dan Sharp, with Davey Tree Victoria
Sharp says the cold snap will likely shock the non-native trees and flowers which are just about to bloom.
“You may seem some blossoms falling, but that’s the extent of the damage,” said Sharp.
The bad news: there’s not much to do for the garden now — the time to act was last week, by putting out protective mulch on top of vulnerable budding flowers.
The good news is this front will die down shortly.
“By tomorrow morning, the winds are going to slacken a lot,” said Castellan.
Castellan says the cold snap will stick around until Friday when Vancouver Island will warm up to double digits during the day coming with rain.
But, he also warns to plan for a slightly colder than average spring ahead.
“We’ll stay a degree or two below on average. Probably nobody will feel it. It might just have an impact on the snow in higher elevations and therefore the potential melt of that snow in May or June and whether or not that causes any flooding,” said Castellan.
“Because we still have a La Nina phenomenon happening in the equatorial Pacific. That’s why we’re seeing the cause and effect of this forecast.”
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