Winter storm causes crashes as BC Hydro crews brace for outages on mid-Island

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Though it was stormy on the South Island, parts of central Vancouver Island may have borne the brunt of the snow as Port Alberni and Nanaimo both saw significant accumulations Tuesday.

The snow led to problems on the roads and hydro crews are bracing for outages with strong winds picking up in the afternoon.

There is a large swath of Vancouver Island snow covering places like Nanaimo and Tofino, where it didn’t stop surfers from checking out the waves, Sayward and Port Alberni, where nine centimetres had fallen by 2 p.m.

READ MORE: BC Ferries cancels sailings on all Vancouver Island-Lower Mainland routes

It quickly led to problems on the roads. A three-vehicle crash on the Nanaimo Parkway near Cedar Road was just one of many.

“It’s been very busy this morning. Car accidents are starting to mount up. As the day goes on it’s only going to get worse so I’d definitely caution people to be extra careful,” said Cpt. Michael Allard with Nanaimo Fire Rescue.

The City of Nanaimo says it’s got about 15 pieces of equipment out plowing and they’re focusing on the city’s priority one routes while the snow accumulates quickly.

“It’s definitely winter driving conditions. This is the first real winter storm of the season so we just need everyone to be prepared. It could be a short-lived event so if you don’t have to go out it might be better to stay home for today,” said David Thompson, Nanaimo’s Manager of Roads and Traffic Services.

Winter weather wreaked havoc on mid-Island roads, like in this crash that occurred on Cedar Road in Nanaimo. Nov. 29, 2022.Winter weather wreaked havoc on mid-Island roads, like in this crash that occurred on Cedar Road in Nanaimo. Nov. 29, 2022.

Even in locations where the snow hasn’t accumulated as much, such as Parksville and Comox, winds soon showed their force, gusting to 75 kilometres an hour at Goose Spit in Comox.

And with the wind and snow, power outages are once again becoming a concern. Vancouver Island already had 15 outages early Tuesday evening. BC Hydro says crews are ready to work through the night.

“We’ve put all our crews, contract crews and people that support our crews on notice, make sure you’re prepared, and available for this storm event. We have crews over on the gulf islands doing regular work and we’ve asked that they stay over there in case there are any outages,” said Ted Olynyk, BC Hydro’s Manager of Community Relations on Vancouver Island.

But the freezing temperature and snow did not stop Mark Breingan from his daily run.

“I’m actually finding the sidewalks not all that slippery. I don’t know, maybe it’s not cold enough for there to be ice underneath, yeah, but traction is not really a problem at least not yet.”

Though he notes he hadn’t seen any other runners Tuesday as the snow walloped the region with its first big test of the season.

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