Windstorm cuts power to 176,000 hydro customers, downs trees across South Coast
VANCOUVER -- A windstorm that swept into B.C.'s South Coast on Tuesday cut power to 176,000 hydro customers and downed several trees onto streets and highways.
BC Hydro said crews were out all day working to repair damaged electrical infrastructure and restore power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses. As of the mid-afternoon, there were still nearly 100,000 customers without electricity.
There have also been reports of downed power lines, prompting a reminder from BC Hydro to keep a safe distance if anyone should encounter one.
"A downed power line is considered an emergency situation. Members of the public should stay at least 10 metres back and call 911 immediately," the utility said in a news release.
The windstorm, which prompted warnings from Environment Canada early Tuesday morning, sent branches and trees down onto roads in Vancouver's West End and Olympic Village neighbourhoods.
It also sent one tree crashing down directly in front of an RV that was driving full speed down Highway 1 near hope. The crash caved in the vehicle's windshield, and three people were trapped inside until firefighters came to rescue them.
RCMP at the scene said it was a miracle no one was seriously hurt.
Environment Canada's wind warning came in around 5 a.m., and forecasted strong winds of up to 90 km/h in parts of the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island.
"Widespread gusty winds are expected over Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and Howe Sound today," it read.
"A rapidly intensifying low pressure system is approaching Vancouver Island and will cross the island south of Port Hardy late this morning."
In terms of power outages, BC Hydro said the cities of Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Qualicum and Courtenay were the hardest hit.
Forecasters said the wind was expected to ease up by the evening.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Emad Agahi