A storm summary and review...plus a tornado in the Pacific Northwest?!

Well folks, Vancouver dodged a wind bullet on this one, and the wind forecasted significantly missed the mark for the Vancouver area, but it was nevertheless a very powerful storm. 

Over 30,000 hydro customers on Vancouver Island lost power yesterday evening, but the number would have been well over 100,000+ if the low had tracked even 100 km south of it's landfall position. This would have brought the highest wind zone closer to more densely populated cities.

EC wind summary (Peak Gusts): 

  • Estevan Point                                                    122 km/h 
  • Comox Airport                                                    94 km/h
  • Sisters Island                                                    102 km/h
  • Discover island                                                 103 km/h
  • Saturna Island                                                     93 km/h

Low approaching peak intensity as it makes landfall on Vancouver Island 

Low approaching peak intensity as it makes landfall on Vancouver Island 

 An adaptation of the precautionary principle was used in this case when it came to forecasting this storm.   

The incredible reality was that forecast models were able to predict a weather bomb that hadn't even have formed by Sunday morning, several days in advance!

A couple models (NAM/RAP), had the low slamming into southern Vancouver Island/Washington State, while another high profile model (GFS) had the cyclone coming ashore around central Vancouver Island at a slightly weaker pressure. The GFS had the right idea, while the NAM/RAP lost a bit of credibility with this botched prediction. The end result was the low going even further north than the GFS model predicted. 

This amount of uncertainty in the track and extreme pressure drop offshore prompted serious weather warnings for Vancouver. A storm that took a similar track was the wind event of December 14th-15th, 2006 (Hanukkah Eve Storm), which caused over $300 million dollars in damage, left 1.8 million customers in the dark, and was responsible for 18 fatalities. 

 In other local weather news today a tornado formed within 250 km of Vancouver near the town of Frederickson, Washington. The National Weather Service has declared this tornado an EF-1 event with maximum sustained winds of 180 km/hr. Tornadoes are quite rare in the Pacific Northwest, and during some brief research I only found two known British Columbia twisters, both in the 1960's (one in Nanaimo and another in Ucluelet). 

 

Damage in Frederickson, Washington. Rail cars are derailed by the powerful 180 km/hr winds 

Damage in Frederickson, Washington. Rail cars are derailed by the powerful 180 km/hr winds 

More info here: http://www.king5.com/news/local/Strong-windstorm--Western-Washington-weekend-225716201.html

 #50shadesofVan

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DID YOU KNOW? Yesterday's low pressure system that struck the BC coast had a lower pressure than ANY Atlantic Hurricane or Tropical Storm for 2013 (so far!).