Why doesn't Bowen Island have its own Environment Canada forecast?

And how look for Bowen weather information

Amid the blizzards, storm watches and hurricane wind warnings of the other week, islanders may have been unsure where to look for weather information as Bowen doesn’t have an Environment and Climate Change Canada web page.

So we asked Environment Canada meteorologist Matt MacDonald how islanders can get and interpret weather information for Bowen.

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Bowen fits into Environment Canada’s Howe Sound forecast region (rather than the Metro Vancouver or the Sunshine Coast).

While MacDonald acknowledges that conditions can differ drastically from one side of the island to the other, let alone from conditions on Gambier or Squamish, he says that islanders should look at the Squamish forecast for Bowen information. If conditions in the fjord will differ drastically between the mouth and the north end, meteorologists often mention the localized information.

(When the Undercurrent talked with MacDonald, high winds near Bowen featured in the Squamish forecast.)

MacDonald said that one of the main reasons Bowen doesn’t have its own forecast is that it doesn’t have a weather station. There’s one at Pam Rocks in the middle of the sound, one in West Vancouver and another in Gibsons.

“Bowen Island falls within a bit of a Bermuda Triangle between those three observation points,” he said. “So it’s really hard for us to forecast for a place where we don’t know what the weather is actually doing because there’s no way of confirming that a forecast is right.”

“I’ve spoken to emergency managers on Bowen Island and what they do is what we call a poor man’s ensemble,” said MacDonald. “You look at three different forecasts and do an averaging of them.”

There’s also the marine forecast. MacDonald says that given we’re an island in the middle of the sound, the marine forecast is a good resource. It was in that forecast that there was a hurricane force wind warning the other week. Environment Canada recorded speeds of up to 150 km/hr in the sound.

“The entire week last week was just a really interesting weather week,” said MacDonald. “We had seven storms in as many days.”

But for those with smartphones, MacDonald recommends Environment and Climate Change Canada’s WeatherCAN app that uses the phone’s location to give users the most relevant forecast for their area. It’s available on iphone and android.

Now if just Googling “Bowen weather,” one might be confused that the Weather Network has a Bowen page. “That forecast is completely automated,” said MacDonald. “[There’s] no professional meteorologist fine tuning that forecast––it’s just directly from a weather model.” He added that professional meteorologists know when models are doing well and when they need adjustment.


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