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Waves reach 1.9 metres during B.C. storm

Waves hammered into Vancouver's seawall while the highest waves were recorded in the Strait of Georgia.

Strong winds in B.C. resulted in 1.9-metre high waves in the Strait of Georgia early Thursday morning.

Two weather-related notices were issued Wednesday by Environment Canada: one that called for "significant" waves, the other an arctic outflow warning with temperatures dipping to -20 C. The former ended by 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Elevated ocean water levels were expected early Thursday morning with waves predicted to exceed the highest astronomical tide.

According to meteorologists, waves at English Bay in Vancouver reached 1.5 metres and stayed at this height for most of the morning.

Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Erven says Metro Vancouver saw high tides and fairly strong northwesterly winds of anywhere from 30 to 50 kilometres per hour gusting upwards of 60.

"These two factors combined are generating some pretty extensive wave activity along the shorelines of Metro Vancouver,” she says.

Buoys in the Strait of Georgia were still measuring wave activity at 1.4 metres high as of 10 a.m. Thursday.

“We're still seeing some excessive wave activity through this morning,” she says.

A major shift in wind pattern is expected Thursday afternoon.

“An easterly or northeasterly wind as that arctic front comes through and brings us our frigid temperatures that are in the forecast,” she says. “We're going to start to see those waves really diminish later this afternoon.”

Waves on Thursday reached the heights that meteorologists were predicting.

’Spectacular’ waves hit B.C.

Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, told Glacier Media areas likely to be impacted by high waves include Metro Vancouver shorelines along the Strait of Georgia, such as Stanley Park, University of British Columbia, Kitsilano, Richmond and Delta.

Due to the northwest winds, Castellan believes the locations that will be more strongly affected are Richmond and Delta, along with Kitsilano and UBC.

Near Lions Gate Bridge and Stanley Park could see more of the impact compared to West Vancouver.

“It may look a little bit more spectacular than it is in terms of damages,” he says.

According to the forecast, the waves were expected to be the highest at roughly 7 a.m. on Thursday morning.

A Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation spokesperson says staff would be closely monitoring the changing weather patterns.

Sections of the seawall were closed to help keep the public safe from surging tides and overhead hazards.

"We request that the public respect all closures (including those that may occur without advanced notice), give crews plenty of space to work and stay away from the water’s edge during surges, particularly if accompanying children or pets,” says the spokesperson.

Park Board staff conduct annual preparations to manage winter weather events such as removing debris or washed up logs from shorelines and placing sandbags at specific coastal areas to protect infrastructure against rising water levels.

Tides on Friday could also be high with a similar surge and waves.

Metro Vancouver, Greater Victoria, Fraser Valley and the Southern Gulf Islands are all under the arctic outflow warning from Thursday night to Saturday afternoon.

There will be a risk of frostbite and hypothermia as the wind chill value makes it feel like -20 C.