VANCOUVER -- A wind warning is in effect in Metro Vancouver as the region deals with downed trees and powerlines that knocked out power to thousands.

Environment Canada issued the warning shortly before 4 a.m., saying gusts as strong as 90 km/h could hit southeast sections including Surrey and Langley. 

Winds of a similar speed were reported in the Southern Gulf Islands, Howe Sound and Victoria.

They're expected to die down Wednesday night, the warning said.

Meanwhile more than 18,000 customers woke up to darkness as power outages were reported across the area. North Vancouver appeared to be the hardest hit early Wednesday, and several schools had to open late as a result. 

Snow in the forecast for Vancouver

The strong winds came in with an Arctic ridge of high pressure expected to bring a sudden dose of winter weather to the Lower Mainland.

In a special weather statement issued earlier this week and renewed Wednesday, Environment Canada warned of a "cold and blustery week" with snow possible by Sunday night.

The Arctic air on its way in is expected to bring temperatures down past the freezing mark in coastal communities.

But with the wind chill, it may feel much colder. The forecaster expects values to reach a range of -5 to -10 C, and advises those working outside to dress in layers.

It suggests travellers add winter emergency kits to their vehicles in case of emergency.

The City of Vancouver issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, as it does on colder nights, a measure that enables it to open extra shelter spaces to help the region's homeless population come in from the cold.

Vancouver forecast

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