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Highest wind gust this century recorded in Kamloops

Trees we're toppled at McArthur Island park in Kamloops, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017 during the storm.
October 18, 2017 - 3:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - From power outages to uprooted trees, Kamloops was hit hard by the wild winds yesterday.

The highest wind gust speed was clocked at 104 km/h, Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist says. It's the highest wind gust recorded this century.

The City of Kamloops advised residents to stay out of city parks yesterday afternoon, Oct. 17, after several trees and large branches fell during the windstorm. High winds are also expected to continue today.

Some residents in Barnhartvale reported on social media a twister-like cloud formation in the area. Lundquist says it's highly unlikely this was a tornado.

"What happens is you get rotations of wind that look like a twister," Lundquist says. "Sometimes we call it a little 'gust-nado'."

Lundquist compares it to when you're walking down a street on a windy, fall day and see leaves blowing in a circle. He says it's basically a large-scale version of that.

The highest wind gust speed in Vernon clocked in at 111 km/h, but since it was measured with a volunteer's device, Lundquist says, there's no information available for the highest gust speeds on record in that city.

But in Kamloops, wind gust speeds haven't reached over 100 km/h since 1998. In the past 60 years there have only been a dozen events equal or higher to yesterday's gust speed in Kamloops, the highest being 137 km/h in 1975.

As for why these wind events are so rare, Lundquist says it has a lot to do with the landscape of the Interior. He says when low pressure systems move across the province, they tend to die down once they reach the Thompson-Okanagan, with the winds often cut down by the surrounding mountains.

"This storm was one of the rare ones," Lundquist says. "It continued to develop when it crossed into the Interior."

Kamloops's valley landscape can also act like a funnel, swirling winds around the city.


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