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Environment Canada gives Metro Vancouver 5 sub-regional weather zones

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/br ... her-zones-1.4116655

The forecast for Metro Vancouver's weather forecasts? They're going to get a lot longer.

Starting this week, Environment Canada's public projections have been divided up into five distinct regions in Metro Vancouver, allowing for greater specificity in their short-term forecasts.

"Before, when you were to look up a forecast, you had one choice for Metro Vancouver: Vancouver," said CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.

"Now, you have six choices, depending on where you live and the micro-forecasts for that area. So, not only will your forecasts be more accurate ... but now they will actually have separate forecast zones. That's not only helpful for day-to-day weather but especially for severe weather events."

While sub-regional information was often included in Environment Canada forecasts, the five Metro Vancouver regions that will now have specific forecast every day are:

  • "City of Vancouver," which includes Burnaby and New Westminster
  • "North Shore," which includes West Vancouver and North Vancouver,
  • "Metro Vancouver northeast," which includes the Tri-Cities, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge
  • "Metro Vancouver southwest," which includes Richmond and Delta
  • "Metro Vancouver southeast," which includes Surrey and Langley.

In addition, West Vancouver, Richmondand Langleyhave specific forecast pages on the Government of Canada's website in addition to Vancouver.

The following areas of B.C. have also had their regional forecasts divided up:

  • Fraser Valley has three sections: west (Abbotsford), central (Chilliwack) and east (Hope)
  • East Vancouver Island has three sections: Courtenay to Campbell River, Nanoose Bay to Fanny Bay and Duncan to Nanaimo
  • Sunshine Coast has two sections: Gibsons to Earls Cove and Saltery Bay to Powell River
  • Fraser Canyon has two sections: north (including Lillooet) and south (including Lytton)
  • North Coast inland now has three sections: Stewart, Terrace and Kitimat

Coast Mountain buses struggle to drive up a hill during snowy conditions in Vancouver last winter, during a two-month period where snow warnings were issued almost regularly for months by Environment Canada. (@winnieyeo)

Will help with extreme weather alerts

More so than most large Canadian urban areas, Metro Vancouver often has extreme variations in weather patterns across its region.

"We have several mountain ranges ... and we have a fairly warm Pacific Ocean. And the oceans, the rivers, the inlets all add additional layers," said Wagstaffe, who added that Vancouver doesn't have the benefit of seeing weather systems evolve over large tracts of land before hitting the area.

"We don't have as much data to begin with, and we have this incredible variation in topography, with elevations changing within a couple blocks by a couple hundred metres, so that's always challenging."

This manifested itself during the constant snow warnings issued for all of Metro Vancouver earlier this year.

"Environment Canada only had one option ... people in some sections were getting hammered, while other people would wake up and say 'what happened to your snow forecast?'" said Wagstaffe.

"While this will really help people prepare for their daily lives with more focused forecasts, for meteorologists right across the province one of the biggest advantages will be for weather alerts and really being able to focus in on who is going to see dangerous weather conditions."