One-two storm punch brings high winds, rain, snow and power outages to B.C. coast

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UPDATE, Jan. 6, 2021: Conditions easing, ferry travel resumes after storm batters B.C. coast

It isn't over yet for rain-soaked British Columbians as Environment Canada meteorologists warn of more wet and windy storm systems coming for much of the province's coast.

Extreme weather statements warning of snow, wind and rain are in effect for at least six regions from the North Coast to Metro Vancouver and across Vancouver Island.

The conditions have led to power outages affecting thousands of customers on the Sunshine Coast, Vancouver Island and northern B.C.

One of the hardest hit areas in the province is the northern part of Vancouver Island. A wind storm and downed trees caused several outages in Campbell River, Courtenay, Port McNeill and Tofino.

In total, more than 9,000 customers in those areas are without power, and it's estimated more than 12,000 customers in total are experiencing outages on Vancouver Island, according to BC Hydro.

Crews are working to restore power as quickly and safely as possible, BC Hydro said on Tuesday afternoon.

Due to ferry cancellations, customers on Cortes and Quadra Island will be without power overnight, the utility company said.

There has been extensive damage on the southern Gulf Islands, the utility company said.

As the storm continued to sweep through the region throughout the day, about 2,500 customers on Mayne, Saturna and Galiano Islands lost power. Customers in Bella Bella, Sandspit, Queen Charlotte, and Masset were also without power overnight. BC Hydro said.

BC Hydro said helicopter patrols would begin in northern B.C. to identify damage and continue repairs at first light on Wednesday morning.

Wind gusts are expected to subside by midnight.

Numerous ferries cancelled

The weather conditions resulted in a number of ferry cancellations Tuesday morning, mostly on the major routes between the mainland and Vancouver Island.

The cancelled sailings include:

  • All sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. in both directions

  • All sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay between 10:40 a.m. and 6:35 p.m. inclusive, in both directions

  • 10:15 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. from Tsawwassen to Duke Point

  • 12:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. from Duke Point to Tsawwassen

  • A series of sailings between Tsawwassen and the Southern Gulf Islands.

The full list of cancellations can be found on the BC Ferries website.

Wind, rain, snow for coast

According to Environment Canada, a strong Pacific front was expected to cross Haida Gwaii on Tuesday morning, with winds up to 120 km/h. Winds of 90 km/h gusting up to 110 km/h are expected on the north and central coasts and north Vancouver Island.

It warned winds of this strength could lead to some structure damage along roof lines and windows, due to downed trees and branches.

Heavy rain is also in store for the South Coast again Tuesday, adding another 40-80 millimetres over the next two days, leading to a risk of flooding. The rain is expected to subside by Wednesday.

Wind warnings are also in effect for the area, with gusts of 70 km/h near exposed, coastal areas expected as of noon Tuesday. The winds will ease late in the evening.

Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press
Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press

Snowfall warning in effect for Sea-to-Sky Highway

On the Sea-to-Sky Highway, a snowfall warning is in effect with up to 20 centimetres of fresh snow in the forecast.

Snow is expected to start falling Tuesday morning, turning into heavy snowfall in the afternoon before petering out overnight.

The Coquihalla Highway will be closed from exits 183 and 286 — between Hope and Merritt — for overnight avalanche control from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. PT.