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Wind warning upgraded for Vancouver Island, B.C. coast as 'significant fall storm' approaches


Wind warnings have been issued for most of Vancouver Island and coastal B.C. as a “significant fall storm” is expected to arrive Sunday night.

The warnings were upgraded Sunday afternoon from a special weather statement issued Friday.

Environment and Climate Change Canada said the storm may cause property damage and power outages around the entire perimeter of Vancouver Island, as well as the southern Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast the central coast and Metro Vancouver.

The strongest winds are expected in northern Vancouver Island and sections of the central coast near the Queen Charlotte Strait, where winds near 100 km/h gusting to 120 km/h are in the forecast. In that area, the winds are expected to pick up again on Monday night.

On Vancouver Island’s west coast, winds blowing 80 km/h gusting to 100 km/h are forecasted. On the east coast, including Greater Victoria, and the Sunshine Coast from Saltery Bay to Powell River, winds will be a little lower at 70 km/h gusting to 90 km/h near the water.

In Metro Vancouver-- which is not under a wind warning, but rather a special weather statement--the wind is forecast to hit Monday morning and continue into Monday night. The strongest winds will be near the water, where they are expected to blow at 50 km/h gusting to 70 km/h. 

“This is the first wind storm of this autumn with full foliage. The heavy tree branches are more prone to break in strong winds and it may lead to more damage and power outages than subsequent wind storms of similar wind speeds later in the season,” the weather agency wrote in Sunday’s alert.

“Since this is our first real fall wind that we’re seeing and the trees have been very dry and we haven’t even had any wind really, this will be sort of the first test for a lot of those trees,” ECCC meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau told CTV News on Friday.

ECCC warns residents to be careful of loose objects that could be tossed by the wind and falling tree branches.

And as we move in to fall, Charbonneau said to “find that flashlight, get those batteries in place, go around your property and clear out any drains of any fallen leaves.”

A map shows where a wind warning is in effect in B.C. on Sunday, Sept. 24. (Environment and Climate Change Canada)In addition, a rainfall warning has been issued for Howe Sound, where 25 to 65 millimetres of rain is forecasted. The rain is expected to start Sunday evening and continue through Monday night. ECCC said the heavy downpour may cause flash floods and water pooling on roads.

A high streamflow advisory has also been issued for Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, Howe Sound and the Lower Mainland, including Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

According to the River Forecast Centre, cumulative rainfall between Sunday and Tuesday could reach more than 100 millimetres in western areas of Vancouver Island and in the mountains, while a range of 20 to 60 millimetres of rain is expected in other areas.

And while the system coming to western Vancouver Island might be classified as an atmospheric river, Charbonneau said a repeat of the devastating 2021 floods is not in store.

“It’s not the kind of storm we think of when we hear atmospheric river, where we would expect to see widespread flooding or anything like that,” she said.

“The upcoming storm will mark a significant shift in streamflow runoff conditions which have been dominated by low flow drought conditions through the summer. Rivers are expected to rise rapidly in response to rainfall,” the advisory reads.

Because river levels are currently very low, “conditions are expected to be dynamic,” according to the centre. Officials warn that being near riverbanks, creeks and fast-flowing bodies of water is dangerous when they’re rising.

The centre urges people to stay clear of fast-flowing rivers and potentially unstable river banks and avoid fishing, swimming or boating near high streamflow rivers.

The recent cool and wet weather has helped crews control a number of wildfires in British Columbia such as the Glen Lake blaze near Peachland, but officials have said extended periods of significant rainfall will be needed to ease drought conditions plaguing the province.

With a file from The Canadian Press. Top Stories

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