Sunday, January 9, 2005

We've been living in the teeth of a ferocious Squamish for the last couple of days. The snow fell through Thursday and Friday, but since early Friday morning - and I mean early; I was on the 5:30am ferry - the wind has been blowing at gale force approaching storm force out of Howe Sound. That means it has gusted upwards of 80km/h at times, with the attendant windchill in the low -20s for some parts of the island.

We have survived most of the wind, although there are times when it bends down over Collins Ridge, or swirls in Mannion Bay that we get blasts of it. The whitecaps out in the channel though have been streaming southward solidly, lashing ferries and tugs. As a measure of just how local these winds are, I can look across the channel to Whytecliff and see that the trees near the water have no snow on them, while the trees at the top of ridge, less than a kilometer up behind Horseshoe Bay, are laden with many centimetres of snow. In Vancouver, there has been much more snow, but none of this wind or windchill at all. That the nature of these focused katabatic airstreams.

Yesterday the kids and I drove up to Hood Point to see the full fury of the the storm, and there was so much wind that Smuggler's Cove Road was at times covered in green douglas-fir boughs. White snow on the sides of a green road. Very pretty.

This kind of sustained Squamish is not common, but it can be very damaging. In 1990 a similar event kept blowing harder and harder for a number of days, knocking out the power on the island for up to two weeks in some places. People talk about that storm as one of the defining notches of true Bowen identity. Either you lived through that one, or you missed it, and there are two types of islanders as a result. This week we've had power flickers and outages of a couple of hours - nothing out of the ordinary really - but we have been spared any major inconvenience. Still, it's nice to have the wood stove stocked full of mill ends humming away while the wind and cold assaults us from all angles.