Thousands without power as storm hits Vancouver Island


Thousands are without power as the first severe wind storm of the fall season hits the Island. 

Environment Canada issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, east and west Vancouver Island, the southern Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast. A low pressure system is expected to cause southeast winds of 70 kilometres an hour, with gusts of 90, across the region. The wind picked up in the late afternoon and early evening; it is expected to ease overnight as the low moves inland. Environment Canada is forecasting the peak of the storm to be between 9 p.m. and midnight.

“This is the first significant wind storm of the season,” Environment Canada said in its warning. “Tree failures and power outages are possible tonight. Fallen leaves and debris could clog storm drains and create localized flooding.”

B.C. Hydro sent its crews home early this afternoon with the expectation they’ll have to be called into work overnight to remove downed trees and restore power.

“For this storm, it’s going to be a major event the way it’s looking. High winds cause havoc to our system,” said B.C. Hydro spokesman Ted Olynyk. “Staff will be called in as needed so we can be prepared for what we’re hit with.”

As of 8:30 p.m., several power outages had been reported. According to B.C. Hydro, about 2,700 customers on Hornby and Denman Island and 2,300 in Nanaimo were affected, along with 400 on Texada Island and 300 in Oak Bay. The cause of the outages has not been confirmed.

B.C. Hydro’s emergency operations centre is up and running.

In the first storm of the season, there’s always a risk that trees dried out over the summer could topple down over power lines.

“We’ll never eliminate outages completely but we hope to lessen the impact on our customers,” Olynyk said.

Olynyk suggested people have flashlights and batteries at the ready and cellphones fully charged.

Strong winds will also hit the Lower Mainland this evening, especially near the water, but winds are not expected to reach over 60 kilometres per hour.

© Copyright Times Colonist

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