Bumpy ride ahead for an 'unprecedented' storm coming to B.C. this weekend

·4 min read
Bumpy ride ahead for an 'unprecedented' storm coming to B.C. this weekend
Bumpy ride ahead for an 'unprecedented' storm coming to B.C. this weekend

It will be a bumpy ride ahead for British Columbia this weekend, just as one powerful system winds down and the next targets the west coast as early as Sunday. All of the ingredients are coming together for the makings of an incredibly strong and unprecedented low. While there are still some descrepancies as to where specifically the storm makes landfall and the impacts that will follow, all major computer models are in agreement that this will be a very powerful system to watch. This follows Thursday's 'weather bomb' as well, a system that has already brought significant rain and hurricane-force wind gusts to the region. More on the weekend timing, the ongoing storm parade and the potential impacts, below.

FRIDAY INTO SATURDAY: 'WEATHER BOMB' EASES UP, BUT STILL WITH LINGERING WINDS AND RAIN

A potent 'weather bomb' ramped up its effects on the B.C. coasts Thursday, ahead of the front's arrival overnight into early Friday morning.

The system – which underwent a drop in pressure of more than 24 millibars in 24 hours – was expected to only skirt the province's coasts without making landfall. However, such an intensely low-pressure system typically means strong winds, and indeed, wind warnings were still in effect early Friday morning for parts of the coasts, including eastern Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii, where gusts could reach and exceed 120 km/h before winding down throughout the day.

Another factor is that this storm was enhanced by the remnants from a typhoon in the western Pacific, somewhat boosting the amount of rain the system is bringing.

The rain along the coast and Lower Mainland picked up through Thursday afternoon, intensified through the overnight hours and will remain widespread during Friday as well. The heaviest amounts are expected for west Vancouver Island, with between 50-90 mm forecast by the time it gradually tapers.

BCRain (9)
BCRain (9)

WEEKEND: BRIEF BREAK SATURDAY NIGHT, BUT EYES TURN TO SUNDAY'S POWERFUL SYSTEM

Another heavy pulse of moisture is likely during the pre-dawn hours on Saturday, with just a brief break on Saturday evening, before the next strong storm pushes in as early as Sunday.

While the actual low pressure is yet to develop, an intense and rapidly strengthening system is forecast to approach the west coast through Monday. Where it makes landfall however, is still to be determined.

"There are some critical questions that still need to be answered, as they will have huge implications for impacts to residents not only along coastal areas, but also on the Lower Mainland," says Nadine Powell, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. "And while all major computer models have the storm at post peak intensity as it approaches the coast, it will still be a very strong storm."

The low is expected to first develop Saturday afternoon over 1500 km west of Vancouver. It will then rapidly intensify within 24 hours, reaching peak intensity by Sunday. Currently, two of the three major weather models track the storm closer to north Vancouver Island, while the other takes it towards the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

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"History tells us that storms that make landfall farther south are more damaging to the highly populated region of the Lower Mainland," Powell adds. "But the good news with this specific model projection is that the storm is much weaker on approach."

Regardless, there will still be high surf along the west coast and blustery winds accompanying the system into Monday morning as well. How far inland the strong wind make it is yet to be determined.

It goes without saying that rainfall and high elevation snowfall intensity will also increase through Sunday and Monday.

"In essence, we'll see no let-up from the stormy conditions for the next several days," Powell says.

An additional 50-100 mm of rain is expected for west Vancouver Island through Monday, with between 30-60 mm expected north of the Fraser River.

WATCH BELOW: THE THREE INGREDIENTS THAT CREATE B.C.'S UNPRECEDENTED SUNDAY LOW

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Be sure to check back for the latest updates on the weather in B.C.