Winter Storm Watch Issued – Major snowfall possible – Timing on what to expect.


Old post…

Update 9AM – Strait effect snow impacting east island Thursday.

The strong easterly winds are forcing snow into the Qualicum area. This is *not* part of the upcoming storm! More winter fun. Please if you must drive make sure you are prepared for anything.

Very cold wind this morning setting us up for big snow Saturday.

Brrrr! It’s cold out there! Temperature is only -0.5°C but the windchill brings it down to -6°C Here is the graph from overnight. Eek!

It’s going to get interesting when that cold wind collides with a pacific front Friday night!

Winter Storm Watch in Effect

It’s official, winter is here and the models now say we could be in for quite a ride on Friday. Environment Canada has issued a Winter Storm Watch. A winter storm watch is issued when they expect two warning-level events to occur at the same time such as a snowfall warning and a wind or rain warning. Here is what they say:

4:42 AM PST Thursday 11 February 2021
Winter storm watch in effect for:

  • Inland Vancouver Island

Significant snowfall expected Friday night and Saturday.

Pacific moisture will begin to collide with the arctic front along Vancouver Island Friday night. Snow that is forecast to start Friday evening will persist through Saturday morning. It’s uncertain at this time how much snow will fall, but computer models are beginning to agree on amounts of 15 to 25 cm.

Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada. To report severe weather, send an email to or tweet reports using #BCStorm.

What the models say right now

The models have been jumping around a little but they are settling now. Here is their progression in 3 hour periods starting from 7-10PM Friday night. Greys and blacks are rain. Greens and blues are snow.

This storm looks likely to deliver snow to all, but especially the West Coast (Tofino, Ucluelet, Gold River) and South Island (Cowichan and Victoria).

Notice there are only greys and blacks in this first image at the very leading edge of the incoming weather. The models expect this to be almost exclusively, a snow storm.

Also notice the strong south easterly winds along the west coast of the Island. This could be very ugly. Luckily, it will be start in the middle of night. Snow should begin everywhere except the east side by 1AM Saturday.

As the system blankets the Island, winds on the west coast shift to strong easterly in the following period between 1AM and 4AM Saturday. All areas will be seeing snow by now. With the most intense (in dark blue) on the West facing slopes of the Island (Sutton Pass/Hwy 4 and Gold River) and Sooke and western communities of Victoria.

It starts to lighten up in the 4-7AM period. Snow stops first or may change to drizzle in Port Alberni but continues in all other areas with the strongest in Victoria.

By mid morning things have tapered off on the West coast and inland Island but continue on the east side and especially South Island, Cowichan, Shawnigan, Victoria.

By the 10-1PM period below, we see most of the Island has changed to light drizzle except the South Island and east side where the arctic air is expected to hold on to the end.

Total accumulation 15-25cm

How much snow actually sticks will be very difficult to say but more than 10cm seems very likely for the majority of areas and could be as much as 30cm in Victoria, Cowichan and some other pockets.

Plan *not* to drive on Saturday. Keep an eye on the forecast. I will update as new information appears.

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