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Hurricane winds predicted for west coast of Island

Jan 04 2012

Hurricane-force wind warnings have been issued for the west coast of Vancouver Island over the next two days.

Environment Canada expects winds to reach 65 knots, or 118 km/h, whipping along the west coast with rainfall levels reaching up to 200 millimetres.

A frontal system moves onto the coast today and is expected to slow to a crawl as it moves across central Vancouver Island, according to Environment Canada. Other areas of central and north Island will see winds gusting at about 80 km/h coupled with about 100 mm of rainfall today and tomorrow.

Howe Sound, the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver's north shore will also feel the frontal system as it hits today, but the impact will not be as severe as it is on the water.

The system moving in from the Pacific Ocean is bringing in sub-tropical moisture, which is a return to seasonal stormy weather for Vancouver Island, according to Environment Canada.

Hurricane-force winds is the highest ranking for wind warnings.

“It's a good storm, but at this point there aren't any panic stations anywhere,” said meteorologist David Jones.

Anyone out on the water should be experienced. Southeast winds off the west coast of the Island will move as fast as 75 km/h but will reach more than 100 km/h near headlands.

The wind will diminish as it moves south early this afternoon then it could increase to levels of 80-100 km/h, but as high as 120 km/h near the headlands.

The gusts should calm by late Wednesday morning. Waves could reach 7-10 metres and visibility will be limited to one kilometre in the rain this evening.

“This is not uncommon. We get this type of wind several times throughout the year,” Jones said. “The mariners who are out there know what they're doing.”

B.C. River Forecast Centre has issued high streamflow advisories for the entire south coast of the province, including north, central and west Vancouver Island.

River levels are expected to rise rapidly, but no major flooding is expected. Peak river levels in these areas are expected for late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Wind force and rainfall will be less painful for the east coast of the Island. Victoria will miss the storm with just mild winds and chances of showers in the forecast.

Nanaimo and Campbell River are both expected to get about 10-15 mm of rain with about 25 mm falling between Parksville to Comox over the next two days.

Winds will reach about 40-60 km/h, reaching as high as 80 km /h this afternoon for central-Island communities. Those gusts could continue until Wednesday afternoon.

dspalding@timescolonist.com