A powerful wind storm is expected to hit much of Vancouver Island and B.C.'s South Coast on Sunday, according to Environment Canada, and weather officials are urging residents to be prepared.
BC Ferries has preemptively cancelled nearly two dozen sailings on Monday due to a forecast calling for high winds that are expected to batter swaths of Vancouver Island and the western part of Metro Vancouver.
Cancellations will start at 5:15 a.m. on the Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay routes and at 6:15 a.m. on the Horseshoe Bay and Duke Point routes, as well as for the Comox and Powell River sailings. BC Ferries said in a release that customers with bookings will be fully refunded.
A special weather statement is in effect for most of Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Howe Sound as a strong, rapidly deepening low pressure system from the Pacific moves in.
A weather system spinning off the coast of Vancouver Island is the deepest low pressure system ever recorded in the area, according to CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.
As of 7 p.m. Sunday, B.C. Hydro reported more than 13,000 customers affected by outages across the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast, with an additional 436 on Vancouver Island. A statement from B.C. Hydro says that some customers in Sechelt, and some on Texada, Gambier, and Keats islands will be without power overnight.
Special advisories have been issued for eastern and northern Vancouver Island as well as the Gulf Islands. Gusts exceeding 100 km/h are expected over northern Vancouver Island.
Environment Canada meteorologist Bobby Sekhon said strong winds will hit Vancouver Island Sunday afternoon, persisting through the night and into Monday morning. By Monday morning, that wind will shift onto Howe Sound and Metro Vancouver. High winds are also expected in Greater Victoria through Monday afternoon.
"We will start to see even easterly winds flowing through Fraser Valley too, maybe in the 40 to 60 km/h range or so," he said.
He said extreme wind is common this time of year.
"Every October we normally see some winds. This season, we started early in September and it's been a pretty active storm season," Sekhon explained. "This low pressure is looking quite intense but luckily, as it makes landfall ... it's going to weaken."
Strong winds can down trees and power lines, which is why Emergency Management B.C. has created a checklist of things to do to prepare for the storm:
Clear gutters and drains to protect from flooding.
Create an emergency kit with non-perishable food, water and supplies to support your household for up to one week.
Store valuables and important items in water-tight containers or in high places.
Check in with neighbours who may require extra help.
Avoid creeks and rivers that are prone to flooding during heavy rain.
Sekhon says the winds are expected to subside by Monday afternoon, but people should be prepared for possible power outages.
The B.C. government has warned residents in areas expecting stormy weather to be wary of flooding, and the Canadian Coast Guard says the weather may pose a challenge in the recovery of containers that fell overboard from a ship near Victoria on Friday.