Powerful waves prompt warnings, beach closures on west coast of Vancouver Island

TOFINO, B.C. — Long-time residents of Vancouver Island’s west coast admit to being awestruck by the latest storm that has prompted an extreme wave hazard advisory for the region, including Pacific Rim National Park, Tofino and Ucluelet.

The advisory was issued Thursday as waves up to nine metres high pounded several popular beaches at the same time as midday high tides.

“You’d see people shoulder to shoulder yesterday on the beach that have lived here for 30 years or have been here for 30 minutes, and all of them were … taken aback and in awe,” said Shane Richards, the general manager of the Pacific Sands Beach Resort on Cox Bay near Tofino.

“You could feel it, standing 20 feet back from the shoreline, you could feel the waves breaking,” he said, adding the storm was so powerful that waves were breaking at least two kilometres offshore.

The swells are powerful enough to pick up and hurl huge logs and the advisory from the District of Tofino said rollers were also breaking much higher than usual, flooding beaches and shorelines.

“We’ll have our fair share of clean up to do,” Richards predicted.

“If I was to guess, I would say there are probably 80 to 90 substantially sized logs on our property that weren’t here yesterday,” he said, describing waves powerful enough to toss one-tonne logs over the retaining wall that protects the resort’s property.

A bulletin from Parks Canada, which administers the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, says some beaches and parking lots within the reserve may have to be closed for safety reasons. The warning will remain in effect until Saturday.

Weather warnings for the region have been dropped but Environment Canada says winds of up to 60 kilometres per hour are forecast Friday, rising to 80 kilometres by Saturday.

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