Sunday, January 28, 2007

Wild Westcoast Winter Weather

Here's a recap of this winter's wacky westcoast weather (as tabulated by the Victoria Times-Colonist):

NOV. 6
A subtropical jet stream known as the Pineapple Express brings warm, moist air from the south Pacific Ocean to the West Coast, setting rainfall records. Its impact is worsened by the remnants of Typhoon Cimaron, the strongest storm to hit the Philippines in eight years. The storm floods hundreds of homes, closes roads and overloads the region's storm sewer system.
- The amount of rainfall received at Victoria airport: 38.8 mm
- The previous record for Nov. 6 set in 1975: 20.1 mm
- The amount of rain recorded at the Sooke Reservoir over 24 hours: 181.4 mm
- The high temperature for the day at Victoria airport: 17.1 C
- The previous record high for the day set in 1958: 15 C

NOV. 10
A vicious windstorm lashes every coastal area from the Alaska Panhandle to Vancouver, Victoria and the Gulf Islands. The brunt of the storm hits the capital region about 3 a.m., uprooting trees, knocking out power, and forcing the cancellation of flights and ferries.
- The reported speed of winds in the Strait of Georgia: 70 km/h to 80 km/h
- The record speed of winds at the airport: 50 km/h gusting to 70 km/h

NOV. 15
One of the worst rain and windstorms in recent memory slams into Vancouver Island, cutting power to thousands, closing highways, swelling rivers, and virtually sealing off the Island from the mainland. Port Alberni bears the brunt of the storm, with Highway 4 closed in both directions, cutting the town off from Tofino and Nanaimo. In Vancouver, the heavy rainfall triggers dozens of landslides that muddies the city's reservoirs and triggers the widest water warning in Canadian history.
- The amount of rain that fell in Port Alberni over 24 hours: 130 mm
- The speed of maximum gusts at Port Alberni: 105 km/h
- The amount of rainfall recorded at the Victoria airport: 40.1 mm
- The previous record for rainfall at the Victoria airport set in 1998: 35.2 mm
- The depth of mud covering Highway 19 north of Sayward junction: 50 metres
- The number of Island homes without power at storm's height: 50,000
- The number of homes without power across the province: 210,000

NOV. 19
For the fourth time in less than two weeks, a Pacific storm drenches coastal B.C. Victoria escapes the brunt of the blow, as the storm goes island hopping instead. B.C. Ferries shuts down service for several hours between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay until the winds begin to subside around noon.
- The speed of gusting winds at Saturna Island: 111 km/h
- The speed of gusting winds at Gonzales: 80 km/h
- The speed of winds at Victoria International Airport: 31 to 52 km/h

NOV. 25-29
A series of snowstorms sweep across southwest B.C. with record snowfalls and icy temperatures. In what is becoming a tired refrain, the storm that hits the Island downs more trees, knocks out power to thousands, and generally leaves Islanders reeling. B.C. Hydro says the storm caused more damage than the famed Blizzard of '96. Snow and ice contribute to as many as four deaths on Vancouver Island, and cause extensive damage.
- The amount of snow that fell at Victoria International Airport on Nov. 27: 15.6 cm
- The old record for snowfall on Nov. 27 set in 1985: 10.2 cm
- The amount of snow that fell at Victoria airport on Nov. 29: 7.3 cm
- The previous record snowfall set in 2005: 5.2 cm
- The number of homes on Vancouver Island left without power at one point: 44,000
- Number of B.C. Hydro crews working in the Greater Victoria: 30
- Number of B.C. Hydro crews usually working in the Greater Victoria: 12

DEC. 11
Bang! High winds hammer B.C. again, blowing down trees, killing power, and halting ferry sailings. On the lower Island, a tugboat crew pulls two people from the Inner Harbour after their small boat flips, and the wind severely damages the 120-foot tent and particle-board sets of the Bethlehem Walk in Central Saanich.
- Number of B.C. Hydro customers without power on the Island
and Lower Mainland: 190,000
- The speed of gusting winds at Victoria airport: 70 km/h
- The speed of gusting winds on Discovery Island off Oak Bay: 102 km/h
- The number of homes in Greater Victoria without power: 4,000
- The number of homes in Cowichan Valley without power: 14,000

DEC. 13
Bang! Bang! For the second time in three days, hurricane-force winds buffet the Island. More trees fall, more homes cut off from power grid. Gusting winds upend an unoccupied Cessna 150 at the Victoria airport and blow it 30 metres.
- The number of B.C. Hydro customers without power on the Island: 70,000
- The top speed of gusting winds at the Victoria airport: 94 km/h
- The spans of electrical line down between Bamfield and Port Alberni alone: 172
- Estimated minimum number of B.C. Hydro crews needed to repair Bamfield line: 25

DEC. 15
Bang! Bang! Bang! The third storm in five days, and one of the most powerful in history roars across the province. The winds shatter records, and destroy trees from Stanley Park in Vancouver to the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island. Race Rocks records hurricane-force winds, and weather experts compare the storm's power to Typhoon Freda in 1962. Sooke and West Shore are particularly hard hit as fallen trees and power lines blocked roads, crushed cars and damaged houses.
- The speed of maximum gusts at Race Rocks off the southwest tip of Vancouver Island: 158 km/h
- The top speed of wind gusts at Victoria airport: 78 km/h
- The record for wind gusts at the airport set in 1967 and 1972: 109 km/h
- The number of people without power in Greater Victoria: 25,000
- The number of people without power on the rest of the Island: 10,000
- The total number of people across the province without power: 250,000

DEC. 20-21
Victoria and southern Vancouver Island dodge the impact of another windstorm; it strikes hardest in the north, knocking out power in Courtenay, Campbell River, and Port Hardy.
- Speed of gusting winds in Port Hardy: 83 km/h
- Speed of gusting winds in Campbell River: 75 km/h
- Number of B.C. Hydro customers without power: 20,000
- Number of days Bamfield had been without power before this storm hit: 9

JAN. 1-2
The Pineapple Express whips across the Island again, flooding roads and homes with record amounts of rainfall. Tofino is hardest hit, but the Sooke River also crests, putting nearby campsites underwater.
- The amount of rain at Ucluelet on Jan. 1: 181.3 mm
- The previous record at Ucluelet for Jan. 1, 2003: 75.8 mm
- The amount of rain at Victoria airport on Jan. 2: 46.5 mm
- The previous record at Victoria airport set in 1953: 45.2 mm
- The amount of rain recorded at Tofino over 30 hours: 270 mm

JAN. 7
Heavy rain again causes flooding problems in Greater Victoria. Thousands of people wake up to flooded basements and yards, and municipalities field hundeds of calls for pumps and sandbags. At the Home Depot on Shelbourne Street, people line up before the store opens to get the last few wet-dry vacuums the store has left.
- The total rain at Victoria airport: 34.6 mm
- The previous record set in 1953: 33.3 mm
- The total amount of rain that has fallen in capital region so far in January: 149 mm
- The rainfall average for all of January for the capital region: 115.2 mm
- The record monthly rainfall for January set in 1953: 358.9 mm

JAN. 10
In what is now a familiar pattern, snow follows rain into beleaguered Victoria, coating streets and slowing the morning commute to a standstill. The icy conditions lead to countless fender benders and jack-knifed semi trucks, including one that blocked traffic at the bottom of the Malahat near Goldstream Park where motorists trying to get into or out of Greater Victoria were left waiting for hours.
- Amount of snow recorded at Victoria airport: 12.2 cm
- Record for snow at Victoria airport set in 1980: 14.6 cm
- Number of car accidents in Parksville area alone in one afternoon: 22

But hey, no signs of climate change here! Just ask our Prime Minister!

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