Thousands remain without power after B.C. windstorm, snow in the forecast

VANCOUVER — Tens of thousands of homes remained without power heading into Saturday evening after fierce storms with strong winds toppled trees and brought down power lines throughout British Columbia's south coast the night before.

An update from BC Hydro said 55,000 customers were still in the dark as of 5 p.m., while power had been restored for some 275,000 between Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the Lower Mainland and the Sunshine Coast, with a handful of additional outages in the northern, central and southern Interior regions.

The Crown utility said the storm affected about 330,000 customers, with Surrey, Victoria, Nanaimo, Qualicum and Parksville among the hardest-hit areas.

The powerful winds knocked down trees and branches already weakened by a drought that stretched well into the fall, it said, and crews would continue working throughout the night to repair damaged power lines and hydro poles.

Due to what BC Hydro described as "extensive damage," it said some of the cleanup work would continue into Sunday, especially for customers in remote areas.

A photo posted to BC Hydro's Twitter page showed a tree uprooted in Vancouver, its trunk and branches blocking a residential street.

The City of Vancouver issued a statement saying the windstorm produced gusts in excess of 70 to 90 kilometres per hour, and crews were working to clean up downed trees while preparing for the possibility of snow on Sunday.

Environment Canada warned that parts of Metro Vancouver could see some wet snow, though any accumulation is expected to start at 100 metres above sea level.

The weather office said neighbouring Howe Sound could see up to 15 centimetres before the snow is expected to mix with rain by the end of the weekend.

A snowfall warning is also in effect for the Chilcotin region, where 10 to 20 centimetres are expected before flurries ease Sunday night.

Environment Canada also posted a fresh series of special weather statements for highways throughout B.C.'s southern and central Interior, saying another round of heavy snow is forecast Sunday morning through midday Monday.

The statements cover routes including the Coquihalla Highway from Hope to Merritt and Merritt to Kamloops, Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton via Allison Pass, and the Okanagan Connector from Merritt to Kelowna.

A special weather statement was also issued for the north coast, where Environment Canada said winds could gust up to 80 kilometres per hour and the wind chill could drop to as low as -20 Celsius as air moves south from the Arctic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2022.

The Canadian Press