Environment Canada is predicting massive waves to pelt the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s beaches this week, prompting an extreme wave advisory to be announced for Thursday and Friday.
“During this time period, waves up to 7 meters are predicted. Compounding these hazards, very high tides are occurring mid-day. These conditions could result in flooded beaches, floating logs, large waves breaking high up on shore and extremely hazardous surf conditions. The most dangerous period of the day is likely to be at high tide from mid-morning to mid- afternoon,” the Parks Canada advisroy states. “Depending of the severity of the flooding seas, select beach parking lots and beach areas in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve may be temporarily closed to protect visitor safety.”
Visitors are urged to respect any potential closures and keep a look out for caution signage that may be posted in high risk areas.
“Everything is combining to create relatively dangerous conditions,” the Park Reserve’s Resource Conservation Manager Renee Wissink told the Westerly News.
“We expect the beaches will flood right up to the logs and that the logs could be mobile, which creates a real significant potential hazard to visitors…The logs are, in many cases, very heavy and you don’t want to be steamrolled by rolling logs.”
He said visitors must understand that wave conditions can change rapidly and that walking along the beach during a storm could prove catastrophic.
“People can be walking along the beach and walking amongst the logs and the last four or five swell sets are not reaching the logs and then, all of a sudden, there’s a big set that comes right up the beach, mobilizes the logs and now theyre caught,” he said. “One of the things we’re trying to get people to understand is, don’t be lulled into this sense of security because three or four sets didn’t make it up the beach; the next one might.”
He said no beach closures have been announced, but his team will continue monitoring the situation.
“If we have any worry whatsoever, mostly about the threat of mobilizing beach logs, then we will close the beaches or at least sign them to indicate to people that they shouldn’t be out there,” he said.
He encourages anyone wanting to watch the waves crashing in to head to either the Kwisitis Vistor Centre’s indoor ocean-viewing room at Wickaninnish Beach, or the outside look-out above Florencia Bay, “where you can, very safely, watch the big swells rolling in onto the beach below you.”
He said storms are “par for the course” at the National Park Reserve during the winter and stormwatching is growing in popularity, but anyone planning to visit should check out CoastSmart first for tips on how to stay safe around the ocean.
“More and more people are coming in the winter specifically to watch storms, so we’re really trying to target those groups,” he said. “It’s great that they’re coming here, but we want to ensure that they’re safe and they have all those CoastSmart messages and know what to do and where to go to be safe.”