A woman says she experienced some of the "most severe turbulence" of her life flying into Vancouver on the night of Dec. 4.
Giovanna Boniface was flying on an Air Canada flight from Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) when she encountered the stormy weather.
"We already knew we were going into the storm, but the pilot said it would be fairly smooth," she says. "But the last hour or two were bad."
Throughout the day and overnight Monday, an atmospheric river battered B.C.'s coast with heavy rainfall and powerful winds. Classified as a Pineapple Express, the weather system originated near Hawaii and brought heavy rainfall to the region for numerous hours.
Boniface travels frequently and said she tried to stay calm during the worst part of the turbulence but her husband was nervous. While the first several hours of the flight were smooth, the flight started feeling "very bumpy" as it flew across B.C. and got worse as it circled over the water before landing at YVR.
Since the airport was slightly backed up, the flight was in a holding pattern before it could land. While she wouldn't have been able to stand during the worst part of the turbulence, "things weren't flying around," the traveller added.
View of #AtmosphericRiver from ~ 30,000 ft - 30 mins outside Vancouver #ShareYourWeather #YVRwx #BCwx #BCstorm #BC #Weather #Storm #PineappleExpress #BCrain pic.twitter.com/cwSEE56q7h— Giovanna (she/her) Boniface, OT (@BonifaceGio) December 5, 2023
The couple was relieved to make it off the plane, but Boniface says the experience was far less scary than one she had a couple of decades ago flying from Johannesburg, South Africa to London, England.
"It was just above thunder and lightning and it was horrific," she described, noting that the seven- or eight-hour experience left her rattled and not wanting to fly again.
While Boniface said her flight was circling for a while before landing, YVR reported that its operations were unaffected by the B.C. storm.
Travellers should always check the local weather and the weather for their destination before heading to the airports since both of them — and the weather in between — have an impact on flights.
The Metro Vancouver weather forecast doesn't include any major storms this week but locals might not stay dry easily, either.