The Lightning Storm No One Predicted – 135 strikes – fires – loggers – seagulls

(Todays, tentative, forecast is at the bottom of this post)
Remember 24 hours ago when we all thought it was going to be another beautiful “mainly sunny” day with highs up to 30ºC?

Well, that fantasy didn’t last past 11AM.

Port Alberni was assaulted with what I can only call from my time growing up in the Valley as the strongest lightning storm in living memory.

I asked Environment Canada if they kept records for lightning and storm activity and unfortunately they do not.

Do you remember anything like this in your time in the Valley?  Leave a comment, or email it to and I’ll post it here if you wish.

Even more unusual: It was extremely localized in the central Port Alberni area between around Dry Creek and Roger Creek ravines and along the shores of the Inlet and Harbour.  Residents outside the core of the City hardly realized what was happening until, of course, the effects starts to pile up.

Check out the live blog immediately below this post to see pictures, videos and the timeline of the days big events.  Some things that aren’t noted in there include the fact the fire at the Mill was actually caused by lightning striking a Natural Gas pipe on the roof.  Thankfully mill crews dealt with it quickly.  Also, both loggers sports poles were damaged at the Fall Fair grounds and will need to be replaced.  The fire in Dry Creek attended to by the PAFD was lightning caused after all (according to the Peak this morning).  And, also according to the Peak, apparently someone saw an unfortunate seagull get struck by lightning off Centennial Pier.


It is almost an afterthought now but we did receive some rain, though I don’t think it will amount to anything in terms of helping with the fire situation in the bush.  We received 7mm of rain from the storm.  The Airport only received 2.2mm, demonstrating how localized the effects of the storm were. We also got nowhere near our forecast high, reaching only 24.6ºC and only 22.6ºC at Alberniweather.

It is a very rare day these days that the forecast could have missed this coming.  I did not see a single official forecast mention any chance of thunderstorms.   Did any of you?  Nor do I think they should have…. there did not seem to be any indication that last run of the models thought we would have any cloud or rainfall appear.  There was a noted possibility of convection and instability in the air as I noted in a tweet on Monday
but that has happened in the past with nothing to show for it.

The models have been completely messed up about this weeks weather from the very beginning.  I’m not sure what it is that is driving this uncharacteristic uncertainty, but it definitely makes forecasts difficult.

That said how about we give Wednesday a shot!

The current satellite and radar picture shows showers across the South Island.  Animations appear to show the precipitation moving from East to West though rather than travelling up north up the Island like the thunderstorms yesterday.

This agrees with the models from last night which keep us relatively dry for the day including the Starlight movie tonight.  I think you will want to bundle up with some extra blankets though and probably bring a tarp to put under the blankets since the grass on Bob Dailey Stadium will probably still be wet.

Never a dull moment in the weather!  And thank you to the firefighters at PAFD, Island Timberlands, Coastal Fire Centre, and Catalyst paper for keeping us safe yesterday!

Finally, I have to say thanks for ‘tuning in’ to this website yesterday as I live blogged the events especially the fire on Arbutus ridge.  The page was viewed over 3000 times and visited by over 1900 people!

A huge thanks to Mike McDowall at the Maritime Discovery Centre for live-tweeting from his perfect vantage point at the pier! Follow him on twitter and go say hi and check out the Maritime Discovery Centre, the museum and lighthouse down there (near the marina beside the big Port Authority ships) have some really great and free exhibits on right now all about whaling by First Nations, the Neptune project, and lots of other cool stuff.  Also… THE FOG HORN.

And hey,  Alberniweather made the news too!

What a day!

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4 thoughts on “The Lightning Storm No One Predicted – 135 strikes – fires – loggers – seagulls

  1. The first warning I saw was when I checked the EC satellite view at about 10:00 am yesterday when the sky was darkening and a colleague asked what was the chance of rain. At that time there was a giant orange blob sneaking up the outside of the Olympic Peninsula very quickly, and I told her to expect a sudden but brief rain shower within the next hour.

  2. Some feedback on local thunderstorms. The most amazing storm I have ever witnessed in my life happened on an evening when the Stanley Cup Final game was on, so I was probably one of the few Port Albernians who watched the whole thing. The storm started to the East, coming over Mt. Arrowsmith. Lightening would start in the Northeast, the vicinity of the ridge the hump comes over, then roll across to the South, hitting again and again in a horizontal line. Then it would advance a few miles towards me and start the series of hits again : bang, move South a bit ~ bang, move South a bit ~bang, bang, bang……..all across the width of the Valley. I watched for about half an hour until it was right over my house…..then I moved to my front porch and watched it move West as it continued it’s pattern of hitting in a line as it rolled through. I can’t remember if it was sheet lightening or fork…..but I was thrilled to my core, it was such an amazing spectacle….and wondered at the time if anyone else was lured away from their TV screens to watch. I wish I had documented the date, as all I can say it was sometime between 1993 and 1995. And I guess June would be the month of the Stanley Cup Finals? I keep a journal, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t write about it at the time………..wish I had. Anyone else remember that one?

  3. I seen the lightning from a different area yesterday. Was in the Pachena Bay area working at the time of the event, and it was an impressive sheet style lightning storm down there. One of the residents down there had mentioned she had not seen a sheet lightning storm down there in years.

  4. Pretty sure the valley looked and sounded like a scene from the avengers…maybe ironman and captain America went for a high speed swim and caused the mysterious weather?

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