Snow incoming Thursday night. Messy Friday. Timing details.


Environment Canada has just posted:

Issued at 2020-01-10 05:02 UTC by Environment Canada: 
Snowfall warning issued for:
   East Vancouver Island, B.C. (081300)
Snowfall warning continued for:
   Inland Vancouver Island, B.C. (081500)

Current details: 
Total snowfall accumulations of 5 to 15 cm by Friday morning.

An intense Pacific low and front brewing in the Gulf of Alaska this afternoon will approach the south coast on Friday. The system is sliding down from the northwest so there will be little warming of the cool airmass in place over Vancouver Island.  

As a result, precipitation will fall as snow over Vancouver Island beginning late this evening. Most communities will receive 5 to 10 cm of accumulation by mid-morning Friday. But higher elevation passes like Sutton Pass and Port Alberni Summit may get 15 cm or more total accumulation. 

Precipitation will change to rain by mid to late Friday morning.

There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas.

Wind warning issued for:
   East Vancouver Island – Nanoose Bay to Fanny Bay, B.C. (081320)
   East Vancouver Island – Courtenay to Campbell River, B.C. (081330)

Current details: 
Strong winds that may cause damage are expected or occurring.

A Pacific frontal system will reach Vancouver Island tonight and cross the Lower Mainland on Friday. Ahead of the front southeast winds of 60 to 80 km/h will develop early Friday morning over Southern Golf Islands, the north and central sections of East Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast – Saltery Bay to Powell River, as well as Victoria near Haro Strait. The winds are expected to ease midday Friday as the front moves away from the region.

Wind warning issued for:
   West Vancouver Island, B.C. (081400)

Current details: 
Strong winds that may cause damage are expected or occurring.

A Pacific frontal system will reach Vancouver Island tonight and cross the Lower Mainland on Friday. Ahead of the front strong southerly winds of 70 to 90 km/h will develop over the exposed coastal sections of West Vancouver Island overnight tonight. The winds are expected to ease Friday morning as the front moves inland.


The latest model run from this morning are pretty much the same on amounts, but the timing has shifted a little later. So as you go through the timing below, add an hour or two to what I said in the original post. Expect snow to start after midnight. But it will definitely be a messy commute to work!

Original Post…

Let’s get right to it: You can see the animated precipitation forecast at this link. EC has 5-10cm falling for Inland VI and a Special Weather Statement up. Look for warnings to be posted later today on the east side if this amount becomes possible there.

Models currently expect moisture will start to invade the mountains and west coast of the Island in the 8-9PM hour Thursday.

Moisture spreads into Port Alberni, Cowichan and northern sections of the East side, and rain or snow begins on the west side by the 10-11PM hour.

If it starts as rain or drizzle, real snow will likely begin Inland around midnight. By then all areas of the Island will probably be dealing with some sort of precipitation, as will Vancouver itself.

Expect heavy precipitation, likely in the form of wet snow or straight snow, to fall starting around 4 or 5AM and into sunrise around 7AM. Below is the 5-6AM picture. Note the pink area of heavy precip in Port Alberni at the tip of the inlet. By now there will be strong precipitation falling in all areas as commuters begin their drive. Messy.

Expect the wind to pick as the sun rises. This will begin the shift from snow to rain as the wind will be warm. The front will start to pass down the central and south Island in the 9-10AM hour, taking the rain and snow with it.

Pockets like Port Alberni and Cowichan might see the cold air stick around at ground level which means the snow could still fall until the front passes, but it is darn near impossible to say for sure. We just have to see how it goes!

After a break in the afternoon there will be one final push of probably showers Friday evening. This could fall as wet snow too though. It should be over by 9PM.

Cold weekend and week coming up likely more snow.

Saturday will see strong North-westerlies on the east and west coast of the Island as cold air pushes in. It will feel cold!

Saturday night and Sunday looks like a real all snow event right now. Possibly in the 10-15cm range or more. But I won’t say more until EC and the models update their forecasts. Let’s deal with Thursday first!

Snow shovels to the ready positions!

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