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Hurricane force winds, 30 foot waves slam B.C. coast

Digital writers

Friday, January 19, 2018, 10:07 AM - As parts of British Columbia are expected to receive the most snow on Earth over the next few days, intense waves in the Pacific Ocean lashed the province's coast on Thursday. In fact, they were the largest waves in any ocean basin in the WORLD on Thursday morning. 

Waves over 30 feet, or about the height of a three-storey building, were recorded from the west coast of Vancouver Island with a wave height of 60 feet measured off coast. That was amid marine alerts and gale warnings that were issued on Thursday and after hurricane-force winds were witnessed offshore on Wednesday. 

Peak wind gusts reach Category 2 hurricane strength:

  • Solander Island: 169 km/h on January 17
  • Sand Heads Lightstation: 161 km/h on January 18

Keep on top of active weather by visiting the ALERTS page.

Parks Canada issued an extreme wave hazard advisory for the Pacific Rim region including Ucluelet, Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, and some beaches have been closed to the public as a precaution.

"The public is being warned to use extreme caution on beaches, shorelines, docks and marinas, and coastal waters from Thursday, January 18th to Saturday, January 20th, 2018," Parks Canada says.

Wave heights are expected to dissipate to anywhere between four and six metres on Friday, but storm conditions and winds could still be significant.

Throughout the weekend, the low pressure system responsible for the destructive weather this week will move onshore across the south coast, with building seas again on Saturday. Periods of rain become steadier Saturday overnight, with winds ramping up in response to the incoming storm.

Gusty south/southeasterly winds up the Strait of Georgia may lead to some ferry cancellations or delays Sunday morning, as gusts are forecast to reach gale or storm-force strength. Heavier snow through the mountain passes, especially Saturday overnight into Sunday as snow levels plunge below 1000 metres.

The power of water

The strong winds and massive waves were felt by sensitive seismographs along B.C.'s coast on Thursday.

"The strong winds and massive waves along the BC coast [Thursday] morning cause ground shaking that can easily be seen on coastal seismic stations - like this seismograph near Tofino," said seismologist John Cassidy.

Extensive damage due to rogue waves was also reported in Lincoln City, Oregon on Thursday with several ground floor windows blown out at the Gypsy Motel. Tragically, a 46-year-old man was also swept out to sea in Depoe Bay near Lincoln City on Thursday after he climbed over a seawall to get a closer look at the ocean.

"The report is that he hopped over the wall and climbed down the rocks to get a better look at the Spouting Horn," said U.S. Coast Guard Chief Adam Johnson. "And when he was looking down into one of the crevices a wave came up and knocked him over, he fell into the hole and was washed out to sea."

In photos: Thursday's massive waves

WATCH BELOW: HUGE wave hits Washington coastline

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