Deadly windstorm topples trees, knocks out power, floods roads across Vancouver Island

Chek

WATCH: The biggest and most destructive storm to hit Vancouver Island in years has claimed at least one life. April Lawrence reports.

Crews are working to clear trees and restore power during a windstorm that is being blamed for the death of one person and has left thousands without power across Vancouver Island.

The storm has knocked out power to more than 143,000 customers on Vancouver Island, including all of Ucluelet and Tofino, as of 6:30 p.m. BC Hydro said there was a transmission circuit failure in Tofino and Ucluelet.

There are other power outages all over Vancouver Island, with many reports of power lines down. At 4 p.m., this included 34,000 customers in Victoria, 36,000 in Nanaimo and 30,000 in Duncan.

BC Hydro said the windstorm has caused outages across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. They are also receiving reports of downed power lines. The public is reminded to stay at least 10 metres back from downed power lines and call 911 immediately.

“There is extensive damage from branches and trees breaking and coming into contact with BC Hydro’s electrical equipment. Continued strong winds have made damage assessment and repairs difficult, but where safe, crews are busy repairing damaged power lines, poles and transformers. All available resources will work throughout the day and into the evening to safely restore power,” BC Hydro said in the statement.

Power outages across Vancouver Island as of noon on Dec. 20, 2018. (BC Hydro)

The BC Coroners Service has confirmed there was one death in Duncan related to a tree that fell during the windstorm. 

Environment Canada has issued wind warnings for all areas of Vancouver Island. Wind speeds ranging from 70 to 90 km/h, with gusts up to 100 km/h are expected as the low-pressure system passes through.

The storm has also impacted BC Ferries’ major routes. There were dozens of cancellations Thursday morning, afternoon and evening, including sailings between Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay, Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, Tsawwassen to Duke Point and Tsawwassen to the Southern Gulf Islands.

At 5:30 p.m., BC Ferries said service would resume on its three major routes, including the 6 p.m. ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen and the 7 p.m. ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay.

Out in the Alberni Valley, the rising Somass River has led to a local state of emergency at the Tseshaht First Nation.

In Victoria, Butchart Gardens has confirmed they are closed due to the power outages and high wind. And over at the Victoria International Airport, the terminal building is on back-up power. Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Spinnakers are closed for the day. White Spot is open. Complimentary coffee, water and snacks are stationed around the terminal.

The City of Nanaimo has closed all of the parks and trails until further notice. Oliver Woods Community Centre, Beban Park Social Centre, Bowen Park complex and Nanaimo Aquatic Centre are also closed due to power outages. Residents are asked to avoid travelling, stay indoors and call 911 only if its an emergency.

“The winds are expected to increase before easing off later tonight. Please stay indoors and avoid travelling. City crews are working on clearing roads and we will provide updates as information becomes available,” Nanaimo Fire Chief Karen Fry said in a statement.

There are also multiple road closures due to fallen trees. BC Hydro and road crews are working to remove the trees. Drivers are being reminded to use caution and use a four-way stop procedure at intersections where the lights are out.

Dozens of tree are across Highway 4 has left drivers stuck in the Port Alberni area. Hotels are full in the city.

Anyone in the Oceanside area who can’t reach their destination can go to the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre at 747 Jones St, Qualicum Beach where Emergency Support Services is available.

According to Environment Canada, winds are expected to ease off Thursday night.

Here are some viewer photos and videos of the storm

WATCH: Flooding at waterfront homes at Otter Point on Dec. 20, 2018. (Tanya Garrioch)

Waves at the Turkey Head Walkway on Dec. 20, 2018. (Tom Kofin).

Waves at the Turkey Head Walkway on Dec. 20, 2018. (Tom Kofin).

Waves at the Oak Bay Marina on Dec. 20, 2018. (Tom Kofin).

Waves at the Oak Bay Marina on Dec. 20, 2018. (Tom Kofin).

The windstorm hits Lake Cowichan (Cheryl Power).

Waterfront homes at Otter Point flooding on Dec. 20, 2018. (Tanya Garrioch).

Waterfront homes at Otter Point flooding on Dec. 20, 2018. (Tanya Garrioch).

Holy Christ thank god the wind is blowing in the direction it is. Because that tree could have fell on my house ?

Posted by Destani Dick on Thursday, December 20, 2018

WATCH: High waves and wind at Otter Point (Tanya Garrioch)

WATCH: Snow hits Port McNeil during the widespread winterstorm on Dec. 20 (Gary Hall).

A tree down on part of a house on Rutherford Road in Nanaimo. (Amez Happier).

A tree down on part of a house on Rutherford Road in Nanaimo. (Amez Happier).

A float home comes loose at Maple Bay. Nenagh McCulloch, who took the photo, said all owners and pets are safe.

A float home comes loose at Maple Bay. Nenagh McCulloch, who took the photo, said all owners and pets are safe.

WATCH: Waves batter the shore at the Sheringham Point Lighthouse in Shirley, BC. (Sheena)

Tree damage on Melrose Drive in Whiskey Creek. (Amie Romanuk).

WATCH: A tree falls down on a house on Stoneridge Drive in View Royal. (Curtis Clarke).

Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

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