Glass ball on the beach in Tofino

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Stormwatching in Tofino

Imagine: You are walking on the beach, into a wind so powerful it is pushing you backwards. The sound of the crashing surf, even at low tide, has become so deafening that you have to shout just to be heard. You can taste the salt whipping off the top of rooster-tailed waves. The rain is intense, but you are warm and dry in your rubber rain gear that the resort has provided. The wind is blowing you back so hard now that you decide to lean forward on your toes, arms outstretched, and dip your entire body 45 degrees to the ground. You feel like are flying. You scream and holler, but the howling wind is so loud, your partner can barely hear you.

Alternatively: You are inside by the glowing fire, in the comfort of your hotel. With your drink in hand you marvel at the power of the rain pelting your window. You mark the fluctuating speed of the wind as its pitch rises and falls like a child blowing a whistle. You take a sip of your drink, watching crazed people clad in yellow rubber from head-to-toe, leaning forward into the storm.

This is storm watching, a pastime that has become so popular that people monitor the weather in order to try to catch a last minute storm.

The trend officially started in 1996, when the Wickaninnish Inn began marketing a Storm Watchers’ package. Thus began an audacious form of West Coast promotion: embracing the worst of the winter’s weather as a means to bring people -- and tourism revenue -- to Tofino in the slow winter season.

Have a look at every resort’s winter marketing strategy now and you will see that the technique has caught on. Laugh if you will, but when you get out in a storm and feel the raw power of the Pacific, it is easy to understand the fascination.

Wild Side Grill