Wind warning added as big storm blows into B.C.

The week's biggest storm is moving in tonight, and Environment Canada had issued wind and rainfall warnings for B.C.'s South Coast.

Rain system sweeping across South Coast is pushing strong winds in front, and pulling winds behind

A storm system is bringing strong winds and heavy rains to B.C.'s South Coast Friday night. (CBC)

B.C.'s south and central coasts are beginning to feel the first gusts of what may be the biggest storm it has seen since September, says CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.

A low pressure system that is approaching British Columbia off the Pacific Ocean is deepening, Environment Canada said Friday afternoon. 

CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe points to the front of a big storm that is bringing a lot of rain to B.C.'s South Coast. (CBC)

The strong southeast winds ahead of the system could be as strong as 80 to 100 km/h on North Vancouver Island and the Central Coast, while East Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast may see winds of 60 to 80 km/h.

In some areas, the winds could be even stronger. On remote Solander Island, on the northwest Coast of Vancouver Island, a wind gust measuring 142 km/h was recorded before 8:30 p.m. PT Friday night.

Environment Canada says the winds are expected to ease and shift to southwest gusts overnight, but the associated warm front should begin dumping rain along the South Coast.

Between 10 mm to 30 mm of rain has already fallen on Vancouver since Tuesday, but Friday's storm will be bringing subtropical moisture as it taps into an atmospheric river or, in this case, a mini-Pineapple Express.

The system began reaching B.C.'s South Coast Friday night. (CBC)

Parts of Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Howe Sound could see as much as 50 mm of rain Friday night, and higher elevation areas could see even more rain, or possibly snow — as much as 15 centimetres could fall on Whistler overnight.

Flooding is a concern with some of the heavy rain landing in areas that have received the heaviest snowfall this week. Avalanche danger will also be elevated over the weekend.

Late Saturday, another low pressure system is forecast to sweep the South Coast, and strong west-to-northwesterly winds could develop in the cool and unstable air mass.

Areas of  West Vancouver Island, Greater Victoria and Metro Vancouver exposed to the west and northwest could see sustained winds of 60 to 80 km/h and gusts of 90 to 100 km/h, Environment Canada said Friday.

With files from the CBC's Johanna Wagstaffe

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