Power Outages and Ferry Cancellations as Storm Hits B.C.’s South Coast

A woman tries to avoid getting wet as a car drives through a large puddle in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, December 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Power Restoration Underway as B.C. Hydro Tackles Downed Lines; Ferries Resume With Delays

A severe storm has left more than 170,000 customers without power across B.C.’s South Coast, with ongoing efforts to restore electricity as the region grapples with the aftermath. The storm, which began on Friday, also led to the cancellation of nearly 20 ferry sailings, disrupting travel between the mainland and Vancouver Island.

As of Saturday morning, B.C. Hydro reported that approximately 80,000 customers remained powerless on the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast, with over 5,000 more affected on Vancouver Island. B.C. Hydro spokesperson Kevin Aquino noted the challenging conditions, stating, “As storm season begins, drought-weakened trees are more susceptible to break and snap and come into contact with our electrical infrastructure, which may cause power outages.”

Crews worked overnight into Saturday, repairing downed power poles and other damaged equipment. The expectation of continued strong winds into Saturday morning added urgency to the restoration efforts.

Ferry Services Disrupted

B.C. Ferries cancelled several sailings on Friday evening, affecting all scheduled routes after 8:15 p.m., except for a few late sailings to the Sunshine Coast, Salt Spring Island, and Bowen Island. Service started to normalize on Saturday morning, albeit with reported delays across the network.

Weather Warnings and Road Closures

Environment Canada issued warnings of gusts up to 90 kilometers per hour, accompanied by an estimated 70 millimeters of rain in the Fraser Valley. Additionally, a winter storm warning was in effect for the Coquihalla Highway, stretching from Hope to Merritt, prompting the Ministry of Transportation to close Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon south of Lytton as a precaution. The closure, expected to last until Saturday morning, stretched from Boothroyd to Lytton, with local access maintained for some communities.

Potential Floods and Snowfall

The intense rain raised concerns about flash floods and water pooling on roads. Environment Canada also highlighted that parts of Metro Vancouver might see rain easing by Saturday morning, though it would persist in the Fraser Valley until evening. Furthermore, a special weather statement covered mountain passes like the Coquihalla and Trans-Canada highways, forecasting 20 to 30 centimeters of snow by Sunday morning.

Community and Transportation Impact

The storm’s impact underscores the challenges faced by communities and transportation networks during severe weather events, especially as the region enters storm season. B.C. Hydro and B.C. Ferries’ swift responses highlight their preparedness, but also the delicate balance between safety and maintaining essential services during extreme weather.

With crews working diligently to restore power and ferry services gradually resuming, the focus remains on ensuring public safety and minimizing disruption. Residents are urged to stay informed about the latest weather updates and travel advisories.