Tuesday night’s powerful storm brought snow to higher elevations on south Vancouver Island, including Shawnigan Lake.
The wintry weather created difficult driving conditions as falling trees and branches took down power lines, according to BC Hydro spokesperson Karla Louwers.
“Yesterday’s heavy rain and wind and snow resulted in widespread outages throughout the south coast,” Louwers told CHEK News.
At the peak, 95,000 BC Hydro customers on the south coast lost power, including 25,000 on Vancouver Island.
By Wednesday afternoon, 8,000 Island residents were still without power.
On Tuesday night, high winds blew the Salish Eagle ferry off course near the dock at Galiano Island. Retired photographer Gary Hanney was on board.
“I went out to watch out on the deck. I’ll take a look at it. And I saw us being blown, just blown to the left into the bumpers,” Hanney said.
“We couldn’t get into the dock. It was just too breezy.”
BC Ferries says a localized wind storm in Active Pass prevented the ferry from docking. So it turned around, eventually docking in Tsawwassen successfully.
It all added up to a storm that caught many by surprise.
Armel Castellan, meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, says the event is the first time the Island has seen colder-than-normal conditions since, essentially, December 2022.
“Yes, it is an early event that came with a little bit of a punch,” Castellan said.
Heavy rain totalled 70 millimetres in Chemainus, while Cedar, south of Nanaimo, saw 87 millimetres. And 91 millimetres fell on Salt Spring Island.
“To have that event just ahead of that low-pressure system that was swinging down also bringing in some of the cold air right to the eastern side of Vancouver Island made for some very interesting wintery conditions,” Castellan said.
Some areas, particularly on the Gulf Islands, may see the power outages extend overnight as crews assess the damage.