Thousands without power, ferry cancellations, wind warning for Greater Victoria: Pacific storm approaches B.C.’s south coast

Thousands without power, ferry cancellations, wind warning for Greater Victoria: Pacific storm approaches B.C.'s south coast
Chris Spratt
Branches fell onto a car in Victoria's Beacon Hill Park on Thursday.

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds up to 90 kilometres an hour possible.

The warning was issued at 2:52 p.m.

According to the weather agency, strong winds are expected or occurring. Southeast winds will rise to southeast 70 km/h gusting to 90 near Haro Strait late this afternoon as a Pacific frontal system approaches. The strong southeast winds are expected to ease early this evening.

Just stay indoors! ?

Posted by Tim Green on Thursday, December 19, 2019

Environment Canada says loose objects may be tossed by the wind and cause injury or damage. High winds may toss loose objects or cause tree branches to break.

Most of British Columbia’s southern Interior is still under a snowfall or winter storm warning.

BC Ferries says the Queen of New Westminster’s 3:15 p.m. sailing from Tsawwassen to Duke Point and the 5:45 p.m. sailing from Duke Point to Tsawwassen were cancelled due to high winds.

According to BC Ferries, the weather is expected to improve and the next scheduled sailings at 8:15 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. are expected to go ahead.

BC Ferries also said due to the adverse weather conditions, and  in order to proactively position vessels for tonight and tomorrow, there is a modified schedule for Horseshoe Bay to Langdale and Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo.

The following modified schedule is in place for the remainder of the evening:

Horseshoe Bay – Langdale

  • 6:30 p.m. departing Horseshoe Bay
  • 7:30 p.m. departing Langdale
  • 8:40 p.m. departing Horseshoe Bay
    9:35 p.m. departing Langdale
    10:55 p.m. departing Horseshoe Bay

Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay

  • 6:35 p.m. departing Horseshoe Bay
  • 8:45 p.m. departing Departure Bay
  • 10:50 p.m. departing Horseshoe Bay

BC Hydro says there are thousands of customers without power between south Vancouver Island and north Vancouver Island. There are 2,662 customers without power in Colwood, Langford and Metchosin due to a tree down across wires. The outage is south of Glen Lake Road, east of Lindholm Road and west of Albert Head Road. There are also 2,030 customers without power in Langford, Metchosin and Sooke. That outage is east of Gillespie Road, north of Battery Road and west of Metchosin Road.

There are also reported outages due to trees down across wires in Duncan, Galiano Island and Langford. There are outages under investigation in Duncan and Nanaimo. 

Environment Canada says people living and driving through the Fraser Canyon and East Columbia regions will see the worst of it, with 30 to 60 centimetres of snow expected by late Friday afternoon.

Snow warnings have also been posted for the Arrow Lakes – Slocan Lake, Boundary, East Columbia, Elk Valley, Howe Sound – Sea to Sky – Squamish to Whistler, Kinbasket, Kootenay Lake, Okanagan, North Columbia, Shuswap,  Similkameen, West Columbia, West Kootenay , Whistler and Yoho Park – Kootenay Park regions.

The forecaster says there will be heavy snow at times, up to 25 centimetres.

Rain is expected in the Fraser Valley, where a warning has been posed for Chilliwack and Hope.

The Pacific frontal system coming in from the south coast is expected to bring 50 to 70 millimetres of rain to those areas.

This weekend is expected to be one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has issued a reminder to drivers that snow, winter driving conditions are expected on the Coquihalla from Hope to Merritt.

Other heavily impacted areas include:

  • Okanagan Connector – Merritt to Kelowna
  • Highway 3 – Hope to Princeton via Allison Pass
  • Trans-Canada Highway – Eagle Pass to Rogers Pass

The ministry said it is working with maintenance contractors as they monitor weather reports, pre-treat routes where appropriate and proactively prepare materials and equipment. The ministry said the snowplows will be out but drivers need to expect winter conditions. Travellers are advised to bring warm winter clothing in case they need to get out of their vehicles, ensure they have a full tank of gas and carry an emergency kit.

Winter tire regulations are in effect. For rural highways and mountain passes like the Coquihalla, mountain/snowflake tires offer the best traction in winter driving conditions. Mud and snow (M+S) tires are appropriate for most south coast highways.

With files from The Canadian Press

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