January 17, 2022

Winter Storm Warning – Expect Everything

Light snow already falling in Victoria

So far it looks like nothing happening on the West Coast road

https://www.alberniweather.ca/webcams/

But it is definitely coming:

Winter Storm Watch now a Warning – Snowfall for West Coast

As expected, Environment Canada has moved it’s Watch to a Winter Storm Warning – This is known as a “combination” advisory. They are put in place when more than one normal warning would apply. In this case, we would likely have both a snowfall warning and a freezing rain warning, and likely wind warnings for the east and west coast. So that’s why we have a Winter Storm warning. Here is the 5PM text.

Heavy snow becoming mixed with rain or patchy freezing rain Thursday morning.

Snowfall amounts: 15 to 25 cm.

Other threats: Freezing rain over inland and east Vancouver Island and the Malahat Highway.

Timespan: Now to Thursday morning.

Locations: Inland and East Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Victoria, Malahat Highway and Sunshine Coast.

Remarks: A low pressure system has already spread snow to Vancouver Island and the snow will become heavy this evening.

On Thursday morning, snow will change to freezing rain over inland areas such as Port Alberni, Lake Cowichan and also for the Malahat Highway. At that time, there’s also a risk of freezing rain for Victoria and East Vancouver Island.

By early afternoon, precipitation will have changed to rain.

Rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult over some locations. Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery. If visibility is reduced while driving, slow down, watch for tail lights ahead and be prepared to stop.

Here is the Snowfall Warning for the West Coast of Vancouver Island

Heavy snow this evening changing to rain overnight.

Snowfall amount: 10 cm with possibly more inland.

Other threats: Risk of freezing rain inland overnight.

Timespan: Now to after midnight.

Location: West Vancouver Island

Remarks: As a low pressure system moves across the B.C. coast, snow heavy at times will continue tonight. Snowfall accumulations of 10 cm or possibly more in land is expected before the snow changes back to rain near midnight. Freezing rain is also possible beginning near midnight over inland areas until the early morning time.

The most important thing is this will be a combination event. It is likely going to rain, snow and freezing rain at any time during the afternoon, evening and overnight.

Timing – A little earlier

While light flurries are starting now, real precipitation won’t begin until noon at the earliest according to the models, and Port Alberni will actually be the last location to “fill in”.

You can see by the image above that even by 5-6PM this evening, there is still just light precipitation in Port Alberni and Parksville whereas the rest of the Island has moved into rain or snow.

The strongest rain/snow rates are still most likely to be around midnight.

However, tomorrow morning it looks like the system moves away a little sooner than originally thought. The image below is for the 4AM-5AM period and shows the precipitation has moved almost completely south of the Island by then.

Snowfall still significant – especially South Island.

Even though the system might end sooner, it still looks like a big snowfall event for the vast majority of the Island.

Accumulations:

  • Campbell River: 10-15cm
  • Courtenay: 10-15cm
  • Port Alberni: 5-10cm
  • Parksville: 5-10cm
  • Nanaimo: 15cm
  • Duncan: 10-20cm
  • Shawnigan: up to 30cm
  • VIctoria: 10-30cm

These totals are very dependant on what kind of precipitation falls, obviously if more rain or freezing rain falls, expect less total snow on the ground. We could also have rain at the end that limits the snow on the ground.

It’s all on the table, which unfortunately makes this storm both difficult to predict and more dangerous. The good news perhaps is that it will mostly be overnight, so the need to be on the road will be lessened. Keep an eye on the highway cameras on Thursday morning before you decide to go anywhere.

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