Power out as second of three storms hits Island


The second of a three-fisted set of storms has hit Vancouver Island, causing power outages, fallen trees and warnings of pooling water on highways.

A wind warning is in effect for parts of the Island, including Tofino and Nanaimo.

The second storm has knocked out power to more than 2,000 customers on southern Vancouver Island – Central and North Saanich, Victoria, Lake Cowichan and Duncan – and more than 4,000 customers on northern Vancouver Island. That number was much higher earlier in the morning.

A travel advisory is in effect in Central Saanich with the Ministry of Transportation reporting water pooling in north and southbound lanes on Hwy 17 in Central Saanich.

Meanwhile,  Highway 4 is closed in both directions 15 kilometres west of the Ucluelet junction because of trees on the roa. That road is estimated to re-open about 9 a.m.

In Victoria, expect continued heavy showers and a few more thunderstorms, with about five to 10 mm of rain.  Expect winds gusting to a high of 80 km/h early this afternoon before dying down, says Environment Canada. A special weather statement is in effect for Victoria, while in Vancouver a wind warning is in effect.

The most powerful storm of the three forecasted is expected to come on Saturday, delivering the remnants of Typhoon Songda from Asia.

Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan said the impact of that storm could be “historic” and the overall rainfall total from the three storms could exceed 400 millimetres in some places, such as the west coast of Vancouver Island.

In Greater Victoria, heavy rainfall and winds up to 80 kilometres an hour are predicted.

Fraser Work, the City of Victoria’s director of engineering, said storm preparation has been underway for some time.

“A lot of our operations and maintenance leads us up to the fall program, so we want to have as much of our inspections of the underground utilities done as possible,” he said.

“We want to make sure that any blockages are cleared. We want to make sure that any actual physical upgrades or any changes to the underground infrastructure have been done.”

Every year, fallen leaves are a big factor in flooding.

“A lot of the success or failure of the infrastructure depends on how many leaves are either covering over or down into the storm drain,” Work said.

That is why the public is asked to help with keeping leaves away from problem areas, he said.

“We can’t get to all 6,000 or so catch-basins.”

Watching the weather forecast is part of the process, Work said, and low-lying areas that could be susceptible to flooding are prioritized.

The tight grouping for this week’s storms is an issue, he said. “Coming in such short order, we’ll only be able to do so much.”

Anyone seeing water pooling on Victoria streets during heavy rain is asked to call 250-361-0400.

Victoria and other municipalities are advising the public to stock up on emergency supplies such as food, water, flashlights and batteries. In Sooke, residents can visit the public works yard, 2060 Kaltasin Rd., to fill their own sandbags as a precaution against flooding.

Sand and bags are being provided, but people must bring their own shovels.

At B.C. Ferries, the first storm is expected to have come and gone before any sailings are affected, said spokeswoman Deborah Marshall. She said careful observation of the weather is vital, including conference calls with Environment Canada.

“We will give customers heads-up if we think it’s going to affect ferry service,” she said. “We will be posting service notices if there are any warnings or advisories to give customers about cancellations or anything.”

The storm activity is expected to cause extreme waves and ocean swells up to nine metres in Tofino, prompting Parks Canada to issue a hazard advisory for Pacific Rim National Park. The public is warned to use extra caution on beaches, shorelines and coastal waters through Monday.

Very high tides are expected around midday each day, which could flood beaches, send large waves high onto the shore and create extremely hazardous surf conditions.

Certain beaches and beach parking lots in the national park could be closed depending on the severity of the flooding seas, said Parks Canada spokeswoman Crystal Bolduc. Signs will advise of temporary closures.

Visitors who want to storm-watch can do so from safe locations such as Kwisitis Visitor Centre Observation Deck at Wickaninnish Beach, Florencia Bay lookout, and Tonquin Trail viewpoints, all in Tofino, or Amphitrite Point in Ucluelet.


-with files from Katie DeRosa


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