British Columbia

Power restored to 220,000 households after snowfall blankets southern B.C.

BC Hydro says it has restored electricity for about 90 per cent of homes that lost power after the first official winter storm of the season brought heavy snow and harsh winds to southern B.C.

BC Hydro says about 19,600 homes are still without electricity

Snow in Burnaby, B.C., on Dec. 21. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

BC Hydro says it has restored electricity for about 90 per cent of homes that lost power after the first official winter storm of the season brought heavy snow and harsh winds to southern B.C. 

The lights were back on in more than 220,000 homes by 5 p.m. PT on Tuesday, according to a statement from BC Hydro. About 19,600 households in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the southern Interior were still waiting for power to be restored.

"BC Hydro has all available crews and contractor crews working around the clock to restore power; however, the damage is extensive," the utility said in its statement.

Nonetheless, it estimated that 99 per cent of affected customers would have power again by the end of the night.

"Yesterday's heavy, wet snow snowfall added weight to branches and trees, which caused them to break and come into contact with BC Hydro's electrical equipment," an earlier statement from BC Hydro explained.

BC Hydro crews work to remove a fallen tree from a power line after snowfall hit the South Coast on Monday, causing widespread power outages. (BC Hydro/Twitter)

Crashes, closures, cancellations

Snowfall and high winds kicked off the widespread power outages on Monday — the winter solstice — as well as highway closures and ferry cancellations.

Highway crews cleared most major routes into the Interior that were closed Monday as at least half a metre of snow blanketed the Coquihalla, causing dozens of spinouts and crashes. Larson Hill, another area of the Coquihalla, was one of the hardest-hit areas with a whopping 61 centimetres of snow on Monday.

DriveBC said Highway 3 through Manning Park was still closed early Tuesday and conditions on southern Interior mountain passes remain challenging, with only essential travel advised.

Environment Canada lifted a series of weather warnings for much of the province by sunrise, aside from winter storm warnings for the Boundary, Elk Valley and Kootenay regions. Up to 25 centimetres of snow are in the forecast for those areas.

A "major winter storm" is expected for Highway 3 from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass, according to the weather agency, bringing up to 40 centimetres of fresh snow at the highest elevations.

On the coast, BC Ferries sailings are running again between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island after being cancelled due to high winds.

With files from The Canadian Press


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