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VANCOUVER - Environment Canada is warning southern British Columbia residents to prepare for pelting rain.

It says an unseasonably strong front arriving from the Pacific will join with a warm, wet system coming up from the south and the result will be rainfall of up to 50 millimetres for the eastern parts of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

Special weather statements have also been issued for Howe Sound, inland and west Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and Whistler.

Environment Canada says it's uncertain where the heaviest rain will occur.

Continuous rain will end overnight Thursday or early Friday as the front pushes east, with forecasters calling for showers or the risk of thunderstorms and gusty winds heading into the long weekend.

A separate severe thunderstorm warning has been posted for the Fort Nelson region with the prediction of strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain along with thunder and lightning.