One person was killed by a falling tree Thursday during a powerful windstorm that battered parts of British Columbia, causing more than 300,000 power outages and forcing dozens of ferry cancellations.

Gusting winds of up to 100 km/h sent trees crashing down onto highways, homes and power lines across the South Coast and Vancouver Island, resulting in the death of one unidentified victim in Duncan.

The BC Coroners Service confirmed it's investigating the tragedy, but couldn't release any further details.

Emergency Health Services told CTV News paramedics responded to at least a dozen wind-related calls across the province by the early afternoon.

One woman was left with undetermined injuries after a tree slammed down onto a blue Mazda on Highway 1 near 264 Street in Langley. The impact left the car's roof caved in and windshield shattered.

Witnesses said the vehicle lost control and other motorists stopped to help the driver until paramedics arrived.

"We laid down some blankets and laid her down—put my sweater under her head," said Harman Kular, who was on scene at the time, adding that the incident was "really scary."

Other witnesses worked quickly to move the tree off the highway, even using a truck to push the debris aside so that others didn't get hurt.

Further west in Surrey, another tree was knocked down onto a man who was working near a school, leaving him in serious condition.

"The changes of that happening are so slim—a freak accident," head of the Pacific Academy, Dennis Tjernagel said. "He was wearing a protective helmet so that was a good thing for him."

A helicopter had to be called over to the popular White Rock pier after a large section of the platform collapsed into the crashing waves, leaving a man trapped on the far end. He was eventually airlifted to safety.

Witnesses described powerful waves and boats coming loose and slamming into either side of the pier before the structure eventually buckled.

The RCMP said every resource was called upon, including the coast guard, but it still took about an hour-and-a-half before the rescue took place.

Even longtime residents said they wouldn't have expected this kind of weather.

"I've never seen any storm like this in 47 years in White Rock," one man told CTV.

The windstorm also wreaked havoc on thousands of people's commutes and travel plans. Trees and branches fell onto some major traffic arteries, including the Stanley Park Causeway.

Officials eventually closed Stanley Park due to the hazards.

By the mid-afternoon, howling winds had forced BC Ferries to cancel more than 80 sailings on 13 routes, including numerous departures from Tsawwassen, Victoria, Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay. Spokesperson Deborah Marshall said it's been seven or eight years since a storm caused such a widespread service disruption.

"Obviously the timing is not great right before people are getting ready to go on their holidays for the season," Marshall said.

Passengers Gillian and William Lewis told CTV News they were hoping to catch a 9 a.m. ferry for Victoria, where they spend a week every Christmas, only to be told they could be waiting up to eight hours to board.

"They said five o'clock for sure, but how can they be sure?" Gillian said. "We decided we'll just sit all day."

Dozens of flights out of Vancouver International Airport were either delayed or cancelled as well. At one point, air traffic controllers told CTV News they could feel the tower swaying in the wind.

Meanwhile, BC Hydro crews were overwhelmed trying to keep up with a steadily growing number of outages, including about 160,000 customers in the Lower Mainland and another 140,000 on Vancouver Island.

BC Hydro said it is working to on the problem, but some repairs can't happen until the weather calms down. That means some customers will be in the dark until Friday.

Crews put up caution tape near Blenheim Street and 41st Avenue on Vancouver's west side while repairing a downed power line, which left a cloud of smoke coming off a smouldering tree near a bus shelter. Schools in the area were also let out due to the outages.

In East Vancouver, firefighters were called to help secure scaffolding that had become dislodged and was threatening to come crashing down onto 8th Avenue.

Not far away from the scene of that incident, the wind sent two large trees crashing into a house near the SkyTrain. The homeowner said the trees came from property belonging to both the city and TransLink and that the damage is their responsibility.

The man's daughter, however, said she know she's lucky to be alive.

"I heard a big thump," said Preeti Toor. "I was actually sleeping in the family room 10, five feed away from where the tree came down."

Environment Canada expected the worst of the storm would have passed through Metro Vancouver and Fraser by Thursday night, according to a weather warning.

Additional snowfall warnings were also issued for the Coquihalla Highway from Hope to Merritt and Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton, with both stretches expected to see dozens of centimetres of snow by Friday morning.

"Rapidly accumulating snow will make travel difficult. Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating conditions," Environment Canada said in an alert.

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With files from CTV Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber, Michele Burnoro, David Molko and Sheila Scott