Environment Canada is forecasting extremely high winds in the waters off Vancouver Island heading into the weekend, including hurricane-force winds off the North Island.

Winds are expected to reach 65 knots – or 120 km/h – off the northwest coast late Thursday afternoon, diminishing overnight before reaching 35 knots – or 65 km/h – by Friday evening.

Hurricane-force wind warnings are issued when winds are forecasted to reach 64 knots or higher, excluding gusts, according to Environment Canada.

The weather service attributes the winds to a strong frontal system that will make landfall on the North Island Thursday night. 

The winds are expected to be accompanied by high seas in the area, with waves building to eight metres Thursday afternoon, subsiding to seven metres on Friday morning.

The marine forecast for the rest of Vancouver Island includes gale-force winds reaching 65 km/h off Victoria, Sooke and Port Renfrew on Thursday evening, falling to 46 km/h Friday morning.

Winds on the northeast coast are projected to exceed 90 km/h late Thursday afternoon, diminishing to 46 km/h by Friday morning.