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Around 25,000 without power in B.C. after powerful overnight windstorm

Around 25,000 without power in BC after powerful overnight windstorm-Milenio Stadium-Canada
Waves crash against the Ogden Point breakwater in Victoria during a storm on Oct. 25, 2021. Another powerful windstorm knocked out power to thousands overnight. (Ken Mizokoshi/CBC)

More than 25,000 homes in southwest B.C. woke up without power on Tuesday after a severe windstorm rolled through the region overnight.

The majority of power outages are concentrated in the Lower Mainland, where more than 20,000 customers are in the dark, according to B.C. Hydro. That includes a large portion of the North Shore, which could be in a blackout until mid-afternoon after a number of key transmission lines were damaged.

Hydro crews that arrived at the scene found three broken power poles that need to be repaired, according to B.C. Hydro spokesperson Kyle Donaldson.

“We’ve got a team working on it, they’ve been there through the night, but it will likely take the better part of the day to get that particular area up and running again”

Roughly 3,000 people on Vancouver Island are also without electricity, as are another 2,000 in the northern part of the province.

Falling trees knock out power lines

Many overnight outages were caused by falling trees knocking out power lines.

Although official measurements have not yet been released, winds during Monday night’s storm were expected to reach 110 km/h on some parts of the coast, and Environment Canada had predicted gusts of up to 70 km/h for Metro Vancouver, Howe Sound and inland Vancouver Island.

Weather warnings remain in place Tuesday for the majority of Vancouver Island, the South Coast and the Central Coast.

Also, a snowfall warning is in effect for the Coquihalla Highway, with up to 25 centimetres expected into Wednesday morning.

BC tornado-Milenio Stadium-Canada
Part of a large tree is seen fallen on a car at the University of B.C. after a tornado-like waterspout descended over the campus on Saturday. (Laura De Pascale)

Monday was the third straight day of fierce winds for the South Coast. On Sunday, a storm toppled trees, blocked roads and disrupted transit.

A rare tornado swept over a section of the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus Saturday, downing trees and power lines across a major road to the campus.

Bus service to campus is still being detoured as a result. Routes 004 and 014 are using West 16 Avenue, while the 99 bus is using Chancellor Boulevard.

Many residents not prepared for outages: survey

A new report from B.C. Hydro on Tuesday said storm-related outages are more frequent in B.C. as a result of climate change, but nearly half of British Columbians are not prepared.

Donaldson said record-breaking temperatures and prolonged drought this summer has led to more weakened trees and dead vegetation across B.C., which are prone to collapse in high winds.

“When we get weather systems like this … with colder, wetter, windier weather, these factors could add up to the perfect storm conditions for power outages,” he said.

The utility’s survey, released Tuesday, found 48 per cent have not taken any steps to prepare for storm-related outages. Fifty-two per cent said they do not have an emergency kit.

People living in the Lower Mainland were most likely to be unprepared: only 43 per cent said they’d readied themselves for a long power outage.

The utility said people living in northern B.C., who are most likely to experience lengthy outages, were the most prepared at 63 per cent.

Vancouver Islanders followed closely behind at 58 per cent, then the southern Interior at 53 per cent.

In addition to being most likely to be unprepared, people in the Lower Mainland were also more likely to be dependent on their cellphones than people elsewhere in B.C.

Nearly 75 per cent said their phone would be “very important” during an outage.

Thirteen per cent said they’d rather spend a day in the dark without their partner than without their phone.

The utility said the key to coping with a storm-related blackout is to have an emergency kit with supplies to support every member of the household for 72 hours.

CBC

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