British Columbia·Video

280,000 without power due to B.C. windstorm, ferry sailings cancelled

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.

Some YVR operation also affected, airport advising passengers to check travel information

A tree fell onto a house at Yukon and 15 Street in Vancouver early Thursday afternoon. A windstorm hammering the B.C. South Coast has knocked out power to tens of thousands of households and caused widespread ferry cancellations. (Dan Burritt/CBC)

UPDATE — Dec. 21, 2018: Find Friday's coverage of storm damage and power outages here.


Power outages | Ferry cancellations | SkyTrain delaysInterior highways | Rail damage

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.

A tree fell along the Sea-to-Sky Highway near Horseshoe Bay in the early afternoon on Thursday. A windstorm has knocked out power to tens of thousands of people and led to widespread ferry cancellations between the mainland and Vancouver Island. (Véro Hamel/Facebook)

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.

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.

BC Ferries cancellations

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.

Transit delays

The wind also led to westbound and eastbound delays across the Expo SkyTrain line. By 6:30 p.m., those delays had largely ended.

Interior highways

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.

Looking south from the Coquihalla Summit, about 7 kilometres north of the Zopkios Brake Check, just before 12:30 p.m. Thursday. (DriveBC)

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. 

Rail damage

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

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