B.C. windstorm cuts power to tens of thousands of homes on Vancouver Island

B.C. windstorm cuts power to tens of thousands of homes on Vancouver Island
BC Hydro's power outages map, shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Howling gusts toppled trees onto power lines as the first big windstorm of the season slammed B.C.’s South Coast Friday night, leaving around 330,000 homes in the dark at its peak.

As of 8:30 a.m. Saturday, more than 129,000 customers were still without electricity on Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Mainland, according to BC Hydro’s outage list.

Around 9 a.m., more than 8,900 of those were in the North Island region, and nearly 15,650 for the South Island. Meanwhile, the Lower Mainland/Sunshine Coast region had more than 89,000 customers without power.

BC Hydro said it had been closely tracking the storm, sending many crews home early in the day Friday so they could rest and be available for overnight work.

The hardest hit areas included Surrey, Victoria, Nanaimo, Qualicum and Parksville.

“As a result, all available BC Hydro crews and contractor crews worked overnight to repair and restore customers impacted by the storm,” the company said in an operational update Saturday.

“One challenge the crews faced during the night was falling trees, which made it too dangerous for them to access some areas to begin repair work.”

The wind knocked down trees and branches — many of them weakened by the summer’s drought — causing them to come into contact with BC Hydro’s electrical equipment, the company says. Its crews are currently repairing damaged power lines and poles.

“Clean-up work is expected to continue throughout the day (Saturday),” the company added.

“Because of the extensive damage, repair work may take some time and could continue into tomorrow, especially for customers in more remote areas. However, crews are working as quickly as possible to get the largest number of customers restored as soon as possible.”

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Environment Canada had issued a wind warnings Friday night, in effect for Greater Victoria, East and West Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands.

The warnings, which were lifted overnight, forecasted gusting winds of up to 90 kilometres per hour, with the highest winds near the water.

But it wasn’t just electricity impacted by Friday night’s storm. The B.C. windstorm also forced cancellations on some ferry routes, with the final four sailings of the night between Gabriola Island and Nanaimo not leaving the dock, along with some sailings between Vesuvius Bay and Crofton.

BC Ferries also advised of a delayed arrival for the 9 p.m. sailing of the Spirit of British Columbia, that departed Swartz Bay for Tsawwassen.

The power outage also affected the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, who had their regular season game against the Cranbrook Bucks postponed after the power went out at Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo.

The game was already delayed more than two hours because of travel issues experienced by the Bucks.

With files from The Canadian Press

Andy NealAndy Neal

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