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Salish Sea Weather - unraveling the mystery

Posted by Dave Pollard 
Salish Sea Weather - unraveling the mystery
November 21, 2010 12:55PM


Thanks to Chris Corrigan, I've finally solved the mystery of how it can be blowing a gale here while Environment Canada says it is 'calm' in Gibsons, which I can see out my window.

The map above shows the 5 Environment Canada weather stations around us (they have none on Bowen). If you want to bookmark them, they are:

1. Southeast of us: Point Atkinson West Van -- this is the station Environment Canada shows incorrectly as 'Gibsons'. When you are looking at the conditions and forecast on this page, it's for West Van not Gibsons. During yesterday's storm on Bowen this weather station had only a light breeze.

2. South of us: YVR Vancouver airport. Conditions at the airport are often quite different from those in Vancouver harbour. There is a weather station in the harbour but Environment Canada doesn't list it on its main site and doesn't do forecasts for the downtown. During yesterday's storm on Bowen YVR weather station had only a light breeze.

3. West of us: Entrance Island off Gabriola between us and Nanaimo. During yesterday's storm on Bowen this weather station reported WNW winds (i.e. blowing towards us off Vancouver Island) of 40 km/h (i.e. 20 knots -- each full 'feather' on the map above represents 10 knots).

4. Northwest of us: Halibut Bank in the centre of the strait west of the Pasleys. During yesterday's storm on Bowen this weather station had only a light breeze.

5. Northeast of us: Pam Rocks in the middle of Howe Sound between Gambier and Lions Bay. During yesterday's storm on Bowen this weather station reported NE winds (i.e. blowing towards us from Squamish on the mainland) of 80 km/h (i.e. 40 knots).

So we were in the middle of high winds coming at us from the west and near-gale winds coming at us from the northeast. So while Vancouver and West Van had calm, we had wild weather, falling trees, power outages and winds swirling all around.

Now you know.

Today the winds from the west are down to 20 km/h and those from the northeast are still strong (60 km/h), so we should have another windy day, notwithstanding the calm conditions and forecasts Environment Canada is reporting for Vancouver and 'Gibsons' (actually West Van). All 5 stations are reporting a temperature of about 0C, with forecasts of record low -9C for each of the next three nights. It will be interesting to see how the temperature varies among the 5 stations, and what we'll get here, at various altitudes.

Bundle up, and since I have no generator, if you are a believer in divine interventions, put in a good word for me that the power stays on.

/-/ Dave



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/21/2010 11:57PM by Dave Pollard.
Re: Salish Sea Weather - unraveling the mystery
November 21, 2010 03:45PM
Very interesting, Dave! Thanks!!!
We got the wind and power outages....they got the snow! So amazing there was virtually none here after early Friday morning!
Re: Salish Sea Weather - unraveling the mystery
November 21, 2010 05:46PM
Thanks for this Dave & Chris,
Keeping an eye on the weather for Bowen is interesting indeed. All four sides of the Island can have different weather conditions all at the same time, not to mention the valley. Looking after a marina is another challenge, weather wise. I keep watch on the marine forecast for Howe Sound from the Environment Canada website. Northerly arctic outflows are the winds I watch out for because they usually have storm to gale force winds.

[www.weatheroffice.gc.ca]
Re: Salish Sea Weather - unraveling the mystery
November 21, 2010 06:30PM
Those winter northeast wind storms down along Howe Sound used to be called squamishes. "A Squamish". From outflow of cold air from the interior down the Squamish River Valley. As I recall, it's why you wouldn't want to leave a small craft exposed in Horseshoe Bay (near Sewell's) over the winter -- at the time, before it became crowded and breakwater-protected. I guess the large ferries can handle it?
Re: Salish Sea Weather - unraveling the mystery
November 21, 2010 09:04PM
Dave,
Just a small correction that does not affect your main point. Re your point 5. when Pam Rocks indicates a NE wind, this is coming from Squamish, not the "Sunshine Coast" - as the arrow in your diagram also indicates.
Peter
Re: Salish Sea Weather - unraveling the mystery
November 21, 2010 11:58PM
Thanks Peter -- corrected!
Anonymous User
Re: Salish Sea Weather - unraveling the mystery
November 22, 2010 10:17AM
Most useful post on the forum for a while. Thanks Dave.

BTW English Bay Launch links to the same Howe Sound report that Norma recommended. I always use this one to decide if I can (or want to) take the water taxi home.
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