by Adam Buskard, Tofino
Over the last decade the concept of heading to Tofino for a vacation
by the sea has evolved in many ways. It is no longer just seen as a
place to go enjoy the warm sunny days of summer but as an exciting
and vibrant place to witness and enjoy the ocean through all the seasons.
Kayaking and Surfing have both grown as adventure tourism activities
on the water and so has the enjoyment of viewing Tofino's spectacular
winter storms. The storm season generally starts in November and carries
through till the late stages of spring, but the most intense period
lasts from December through February.
Catching a big one takes a bit of luck but if you were to keep up
to date with the developing systems swirling through the offshore waters
you could. These powerful storms are created by deep low pressure systems
that move up into the Gulf of Alaska generating storm fronts that spin
off hitting the coast armed with hurricane force winds, torrential
rain and massive ocean swells that can swallow up small offshore islands
in a single surge.
rising to storm force
50 knots to hurricane force 70 knots today."
The best ways to track these developing systems is through government
meteorology websites and the marine radio broadcasts. While here tuning
in to the marine radio broadcasts becomes like a play-by-play commentary
for the days performance. To wake up in the morning and hear "An
intense front will move into the offshore waters today and cross the
coast tonight. Storm warning continued. Southeast winds rising to storm
force 50 knots to hurricane force 70 knots today. Seas 4 to 5 meters
rising to 7 to 9 meters. Outlook: Veering to strong to gale force southerly
then backing to strong to gale force southeast." gets you out
of bed with the excitement of an awaiting adventure.
The ways in which to enjoy a big winter storm are as varied as the
people who desire to experience them. Getting all bundled up for a
windy wet walk on the beach is always a good place to start. The sensation
of leaning into the howling wind and horizontal rain as you watch the
ocean being stirred up into a frenzy of white froth and spinning driftwood
is one not soon to be forgotten. Or for the more indulgent and comfortable
of approaches, get yourself a ringside seat at one of the restaurants
located along the coastline. Nothing compares to the experience of
watching the surreal images of the storm outside from a warm and cozy
lounge with a latte in your hands and a meal in front of you. To totally
immerse yourself in the environment get accommodation in one of the
many waterfront B&B's, lodges or vacation homes. This way
the excitement is at your doorstep, and stunning views can be enjoyed
from the comfort of a big chair and shared with a good book and a warm
Whatever the approach, the experience is found to be exhilarating,
inspiring and relaxing, all the emotions that one feels when seeing
the forces of nature that are so much bigger and more powerful than
Spots to Watch Storms in Tofino
Located at the south end of long beach within the Pacific Rim
National Park, this spot offers some of the largest swells and
concentration of driftwood in the water. Great views from the old Wickaninnish Inn, now the Wickaninnish Interpretive centre.
To get to this spot you follow the trail that leads
from behind the Wickaninnish Interpretive Center, the old Wickannish Inn. This
small pebble beach
gets large swells funneled into it from outer rocks and islands
For the biggest of panoramic views there is no beating long
beach. Miles and miles of rolling swells can be seen crashing
over offshore islands and rocks.
Known to be a focal point for most direction of swells, this
spot gets the biggest and most powerful waves.
This residential beach in Tofino, dotted with B&B's
gives the most varied of views. You can watch massive rollers
mouth of Cox Bay, towering waves crash onto Frank Island or
steep breaking wave faces with the lighthouse in the background.