Get out the shovels and sand! ‘Winter’ is coming to Vancouver Island

Update: A snowfall warning was issued for eastern Vancouver Island on Sunday morning, with five to 15 centimetres expected between Duncan to Nanaimo and Nanoose Bay to Fanny Bay.

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Vancouver Island’s balmy winter weather is expected to give way to colder temperatures and snow squalls this weekend, followed by the coldest conditions this season early next week.

“I’d definitely keep the snow shovels on hand and get the warm jackets out,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Matt MacDonald.

“We haven’t really seen any Arctic air this winter. January and December were between one and two degrees above normal for most of the Island. That’s all going to change on Sunday.”

Arctic air is pushing down from northern B.C. and will reach Vancouver Island on Sunday, MacDonald said.

“When this pattern unfolds, the cold air comes out of the mainland and crosses the Strait of Georgia while picking up moisture. It creates what we call strait-effects snow, which is similar to lake-effects snow in Eastern Canada,” MacDonald explained. “It’s more commonly known as snow squalls.”

Sunday will begin with showers and wet flurries, then temperatures will drop throughout the day.

Environment Canada has issued a weather alert for Greater Victoria, warning of the colder conditions and increasing chances of snow.

It also issued an alert for east Vancouver Island, including Duncan to Nanaimo, Nanoose Bay to Fanny Bay and Courtenay to Campbell River.

Nanaimo to Comox has the greatest potential of seeing significant snowfall, MacDonald said. The snow squalls could dump more than 10 centimetres of snow in some locations.

“There’s going to be a lot of variability in the snowfall amounts,” he said. “Greater Victoria may only see a few centimetres on Sunday afternoon.”

But once that Arctic air arrives, it’s here to stay, said MacDonald. Temperatures will be five to 10 degrees below seasonal averages for the rest of the week.

“The highs will be around the freezing mark. Overnight temperatures could fall to -6 C,” MacDonald said.

Monday will probably be the coldest day of the week. Tuesday and Wednesday will be beautiful, crisp, clear winter days, but cold, he said.

There’s the potential for more snow on Thursday for the whole of Vancouver Island.

“But that would be more widespread, not so much the Arctic outflow streamer-type snow,” MacDonald said.

Temperatures will slowly warm toward the end of next week, but it will remain colder than normal through the middle of the month, he said.

“Cooler than normal conditions are here to stay until about Valentine’s Day,” MacDonald said. 

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