10,000 people yearning for a ski season

They shared. They talked. They spoke. Some were sceptical our local mountains would see snow, I'll admit.

The past few days, 50 Shades of Van has seen a tremendous increase in site traffic. In fact, more people have viewed the site the past 3 days, than the past three months. Thanks everyone who dropped in for a quick read.

One article was the culprit, The moment when we gave up on the ski season. As someone who hadn't had an article go viral before, it was interesting to see it get posted to a variety of forums and websites such as Reddit, but it turns out the majority of activity took place on Facebook. 

It was a little bold on my part to write about such glorious news when it wasn't a 100% certainty, as mountain weather is notoriously hard to predict in this neck of the woods.

... but I saw real potential in the medium range forecasts last week that would help mountains return to normal operations in southern BC. 

Mountain Snows

All local mountains saw snow yesterday and last night, but more is on the way today (5-10 cm), with scattered flurries tomorrow, but the real jackpot is looking to be Friday night and Saturday, when the strongest storm since September 29th batters the coast.

And good news. It's looking like ALL snow above 1100 metres. Don't be surprised to see 50 cm on your local ski hill with this single system, because I won't be.  

Want some reassurance?

Take a look at model output for 3 hour snowfall totals below for between 7-10 am Saturday morning for Mt. Washington...The purple shading below is approximately 20 cm worth of snow in 180 minutes.

Yes, 3 hours. We'll see how this plays out, but it's looking VERY promising at this point. 

Early saturday am snow.png

If you're a fan of probability (who isn't?!), NCEP has a fantastic website dedicated to winter weather (icing/snow events).

Here's your odds of a mega-dump according to the GFS global model.

Whistler, it's a lock.

975 mb mature surface low pressure system over northern Vancouver Island. Textbook for damaging winds...

975 mb mature surface low pressure system over northern Vancouver Island. Textbook for damaging winds...

Lowland Wind Event

After a weaker system makes landfall today near Prince Rupert, we have to keep our eye on a more potent system, the same one that will bring bountiful amounts of snow to the mountains.

This stronger frontal system will arrive Friday evening, with significant pressure gradients across Vancouver Island. Our typical surface low systems track NE and curve northward and as a rule, impact the central coast of BC. This system will not follow a typical track and will rather track East/SE across northern Vancouver Island Friday night with an expected landfall pressure of 975 mb. 

Wind velocities will be significant, and will bring with it localized power outages. The good news is this is a mature low, and the isobars near the centre won't be as tightly packed as historic wind storms of the past. At this point, it's unclear how defined the poisionous tail of the bent-back occlusion will be.

Stay tuned.

I won't bother posting anything about wind speeds yet. Let's just say a general 'warning criteria' for all areas, and there's also the potential for Vancouver to see strong westerlies after the front and surface low moves inland:

This is a time-height meteogram showing different humidity and wind values at different in the atmosphere. Here, you can clearly see strong S/SE winds ahead of the low pressure system, along with powerful westerlies after the passage of the front

This is a time-height meteogram showing different humidity and wind values at different in the atmosphere. Here, you can clearly see strong S/SE winds ahead of the low pressure system, along with powerful westerlies after the passage of the front

Wave Heights and Possible Minor Storm Surge

The winds well offshore with this system will develop VERY significant wave heights (10+ metres) will be seen on the coast later on Saturday. Plus, this system is taking a bit of an unusual path and isn't forecasted to curve northward like our routine winter low pressure systems.

This is the time to go storm watching in Tofino. It doesn't get much better than what's about to unfold Friday night and Saturday. 

Tides are fairly high Saturday morning, so this also presents the risk of storm surge and beach erosion.

Right now, I'm leaning towards a small threat of lowland flooding for vulnerable coastal communities. Current predicted storm surge values for 10 am PST Saturday has a nearly 1/2 metre surge at Cherry Pt on the southern end of Vancouver Island. If you're interested in more information, look at the BC Storm Surge Forecasting Program at stormsurge.ca

Current storm surge forecast suggest water levels above the highest annual tides expected for southern Vancouver Island.

Current storm surge forecast suggest water levels above the highest annual tides expected for southern Vancouver Island.

That's all for now. Thank you for reading. I'm also open to any suggestions. If you have a specific topic/graph/figure that you'd like me to post more frequently, I'll see what I can do.

So if you have any ideas send me an email at 50shadesofvan@gmail.com.

 

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