280,000 without power due to B.C. windstorm, ferry sailings cancelled
Some YVR operation also affected, airport advising passengers to check travel information
UPDATE — Dec. 21, 2018: Find Friday's coverage of storm damage and power outages here.
Almost 280,000 BC Hydro customers have lost power as of 7 p.m. PT as another "significant" windstorm batters B.C.'s South Coast, also leading to widespread ferry closures and shutting down access to parts of Vancouver's Stanley Park for the sake of public safety.
The entire southwest corner of the province has been under a wind warning since Thursday morning, with Environment Canada forecasting winds up to 100 km/h in the afternoon — especially in exposed coastal areas.
Winds that strong can toss loose objects around and rip shingles from roofs.
"This is a significant windstorm and could cause widespread damage," the agency's warning said.
Large trees are starting to come down in Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale and Dunbar. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Windstorm2018?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Windstorm2018</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Vancouver?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Vancouver</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/VancouverPD?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@VancouverPD</a> <a href="https://t.co/Vk0zWypTmX">pic.twitter.com/Vk0zWypTmX</a>—@4Echo13
More than half of the power outages, according to BC Hydro, are across the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast. The rest are across Vancouver Island and mostly caused by falling trees downing power lines.
Utility spokesperson Tanya Fish said anyone who sees a power line on the ground needs to stay back and phone 911. The Vancouver Park Board said access to Stanley Park was closed due to the risk of falling branches.
The B.C. Coroners Service said a person died from a falling tree accident in Duncan.
A spokesperson was unable to provide further details about the situation and it is unclear if the death was connected to the storm.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/bcstorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#bcstorm</a> check out the gusty winds in cobble hill! Gas up the generator 😳 <a href="https://t.co/e4MWkV9V1P">pic.twitter.com/e4MWkV9V1P</a>—@helenl858
Today’s <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCstorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCstorm</a> is a little crazy in the <a href="https://twitter.com/City_Abbotsford?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@City_Abbotsford</a>. This barn just went airborne. Watch out for flying debris. Stay inside if you can. <a href="https://twitter.com/GlobalBC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@GlobalBC</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CTVVancouver?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CTVVancouver</a> <a href="https://t.co/cLaEimL9LN">pic.twitter.com/cLaEimL9LN</a>—@CstWalkerAPD
BC Ferries has cancelled numerous sailings throughout the day, including several linking the Lower Mainland to Vancouver Island, as winds were clocked at 75 km/h at several terminals.
In all, the following routes are seeing cancellations as of 6:15 p.m. PT:
- Horseshoe Bay-Langdale
- Langdale-Horseshoe Bay
Just before 2 p.m., staff at Vancouver International Airport tweeted that "some airport operations" were affected by the wind and advised passengers to check travel information with their airline before leaving for the terminal.
West coast winter,doesn't need shoveling but hits hard non the less <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/winterwinds?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#winterwinds</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/storm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#storm</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCStorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCStorm</a> <a href="https://t.co/9Trtum2Vtk">pic.twitter.com/9Trtum2Vtk</a>—@SidAllman
The wind also led to westbound and eastbound delays across the Expo SkyTrain line. By 6:30 p.m., those delays had largely ended.
Travelling was treacherous for those heading to and from the Interior on Thursday. Weather warnings for the region included heavy rain, wind and snow throughout the day.
Environment Canada said 15 to 25 centimetres of snow could accumulate along the Coquihalla Highway by Friday morning, and winds whipping the snow about could reduce visibility.
Highway 3 and Highway 1 between Eagle Pass and Rogers Pass are also in for snow and gusting wind through Thursday evening. Up to 30 centimetres of snow could accumulate by Friday morning.
Around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, the Coquihalla — Highway 5 — closed in both directions between Hope and Merritt due to numerous crashes and poor weather conditions. It reopened just after 1 a.m.
REMINDER - CLOSED - <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCHwy5?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCHwy5</a> in both directions between <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HopeBC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HopeBC</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Merritt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Merritt</a> due to multiple vehicle incidents and adverse weather conditions. Alternate route via <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCHwy1?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCHwy1</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCHwy8?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCHwy8</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCHwy3?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCHwy3</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BCHwy5A?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BCHwy5A</a>. Next update at 11:00 PM. Full details: <a href="https://t.co/LGkw152cDP">https://t.co/LGkw152cDP</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Coquihalla?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Coquihalla</a>—@DriveBC
Massive waves that battered White Rock have also cut rail service that runs along its shoreline.
Amtrak passenger service to Seattle has been cancelled, along with up to 17 freight trains that run along that route every day.
Burlington Northern railway owns and maintains the line. Gus Melonas, a company spokesman in Seattle, said crews will work overnight Thursday to stabilize the storm-damaged rail bed.
Melonas said there are problem areas all through to Bellingham, Wash.
Burlington Northern hopes to reopen the line Friday.
With files from Gian-Paolo Mendoza, Joel Ballard, Liam Britten, Eric Rankin and the Canadian Press