Thousands lose power after wind storm slams southern Vancouver Island

WatchThousands of Vancouver Island residents woke up in the dark this morning as the result of the wind storm. Mary Griffin has more.

A concentrated and intense wind storm roared across southern Vancouver Island in the early morning hours Wednesday.

And with the ground saturated from weeks of rain, it didn’t take much to topple trees throughout the region.

One falling tree almost crushing and killing Ron Beland.

“I’m still stunned. I should be dead,” he said.

At about 1:30 a.m., Beland woke up inside his tent located in Victoria’s Stadacona Park. But he didn’t realize until he got out, how close he had come to dying.

“A 100-foot tree fell on my tent and right through it. Missed me by three feet,” Beland said.

At Royal Athletic Park, another homeless site in Victoria, tents were again, no match for the winds. People inside six tents cried out for help as the wind crushed their tents.

Tina Dawson was one of those who ran to help.

“We had people down, trapped inside their tent. We had to pull ropes. It was horrific. It was just horrific. And again, tents are not meant for winter. They are summer tents,” said Dawson.

The wind causing havoc on the Saanich Peninsula as well.

A massive tree rips down power lines and blocks Springlea Street in Central Saanich.  Hydro crews are on scene this morning, clearing the street.

The wind also caused havoc on the Saanich Peninsula as well.

At the height of the storm, 40,000 customers on the south island are without power.

Ted Olynyk, BC Hydro spokesperson for Vancouver Island, said the storm targeted hit southern Vancouver Island hard.

“It hit Sooke and the west coast really hard. Came in as westerlies and basically whipped around Victoria, and came up to the Gulf Islands, and north-easterlies,” said Olynyk. “That’s why Victoria and the Gulf Islands were hit so hard this time.”

The wind hit over 100 kilometers an hour at several weather stations, according to Armel Castellan, a meteorologist at Environment Canada.

“Very strong numbers for a system that is very tightly packed and got tighter and deeper as it was making landfall,” said Castellan. “Those are the types of conditions where you know you are going to see some really strong and damaging winds.”

READ MORE: Power outages blanket Vancouver Island as a result of wind storm

The storm left objects strewn about John Campbell’s Saanichton neighbourhood, including his canoe, which ended up on a nearby roof.

“I had a further look and saw it was up on my neighbour’s roof,” he said.

Environment Canada says the worst of the storms are over, but snow is in the forecast for the end of January.

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Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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