WATCH: A large Garry Oak topples over on Mount Douglas Cross Road in Saanich. Credit: Corina & Stefan Ludwig.
Thousands of BC Hydro customers are still without power following the severe windstorm that battered Vancouver Island and claimed the life of one person.
Environment Canada said on Dec. 20, wind gusts reached 144 km/h at the Lennard Island Lighthouse, 111 km/h in Tofino, 104 km/h on Herbert Island and 102 km/h at the Trial Island Lighthouse and Saturna Island. Esquimalt saw wind gusts up to 94 km/h while 89 km/h winds were recorded at the Victoria Airport. Winds reached 85 km/h in Nanaimo, 78 km/h at the Victoria Harbour and 78 km/h in Comox.
— ECCC Weather British Columbia (@ECCCWeatherBC) December 21, 2018
By Friday morning, all the wind warnings that were issued for Vancouver Island had been lifted.
One woman died during Thursday’s windstorm in a wooded area near Boys Road and the Trans Canada Highway. North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP said a tree fell on a tent while five people were inside it. The woman was found dead and two men were injured.
Toppled trees and downed power lines caused widespread power outages across Vancouver Island. By 5:30 p.m. Friday, more than 68,000 customers on the island did not have power, including Tofino and Ucluelet. BC Hydro said additional crews have been brought in from other parts of the province to assist with restoration efforts.
“Yesterday’s windstorm was one of the most severe storms BC Hydro has experienced in years,” a post on the utility’s website said.
WATCH: A downed tree on the highway in Cobble Hill. (Austin Eby).
Tree on highway Cobble Hill (1)
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Tree on highway Cobble Hill (1)
Anyone in Parksville-Qualicum Beach who are without power can visit a warming centre at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, (747 Jones Street, Qualicum Beach), hosted by Emergency Management Oceanside.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a thank you to the crews working in the Fraser Valley, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.
We’re thinking of everyone in the Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland & Vancouver Island dealing with storm damage today. Please remember to be safe and avoid downed power lines. An enormous thanks to the hardworking crews out there trying to get electricity restored ASAP. #BCStorm
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) December 21, 2018
The power outages led to school closures in Nanaimo, Ladysmith and the Cowichan Valley. In the Nanaimo-Ladysmith district, Cedar Elementary and Secondary schools, Departure Bay, Fairview and Gabriola elementary schools, Hammond Bay, Ladysmith Primary and Secondary, North Oyster, Rock City and Uplands elementary schools and Wellington Secondary are closed.
In the Cowichan Valley, Lake Cowichan Secondary, Palsson Elementary, Chemainus Secondary, Chemainus Elementary, Crofton Elementary, Alex Aitken, Bench, George Bonner, Mill Bay Elementary, École Cobble Hill and Thetis Elementary are closed.
Nanaimo residents and businesses are also being asked to conserve water as the windstorm and power outages have damaged the city’s water treatment plant delivery system. The city has closed its pools and arenas until further notice.
Drivers on west Vancouver Island are also advised to be cautious.
There is a washout between Godman Road and Jordan River Recsite for 40.5 kilometres (Jordan River to Port Renfrew). There are several areas with single-lane alternating traffic due to the washout. And over near Ucluelet and Tofino, there is a washout between the Tofino-Ucluelet Highway and the Taylor River Rest area for 0.5 kilometres (13 kilometres east of the Southern Boundary of Pacific Rim National Park. Single lane alternating traffic can move through the area.
There are also lights out on the Trans-Canada Highway and trees on the road in different areas. Mainroad, BC Hydro and tree removal crews are also over on the Gulf Islands and are opening the roads on a priority basis.
#BCHwy1 #BCHwy19 Multiple traffic signals out between #CowichanBay and #Parksville are causing significant delays in travel time. Please plan ahead as crews work to restore the regular traffic pattern #VanIsle. More info: https://t.co/RG5uwLQF6v, https://t.co/56rmM7LQoP
— DriveBC VI (@DriveBC_VI) December 22, 2018
Lights out at the Nanoose Bay turn-off. Traffic backed up almost to Lantzville. We got away with nothing on Mt. Washington and are driving back to trees down and many lights out #bcstorm @bchydro pic.twitter.com/WAiRhWYnkT
— Julian Kolsut (@juliankolsut) December 22, 2018
If you need to access a location on one of the Gulf Islands, call Mainroad’s 24-hour Emergency Hotline toll-free at 1-877 391-7310. Please provide as much detail as possible and please leave a contact number so that responders can co-ordinate access.