Crews are working to restore power after strong winds came through Nanaimo last night. Downed trees are presenting a challenge to workers, says B.C. Hydro. (Karen Sargent photo)

Crews are working to restore power after strong winds came through Nanaimo last night. Downed trees are presenting a challenge to workers, says B.C. Hydro. (Karen Sargent photo)

Nanaimo residents still without power after strong winds overnight

Forecast of 40 km/h winds, gusting to 60 km/h, for Nanaimo tonight, but no wind warning expected

Close to 6,000 residences remained without power the morning after strong winds tore through Nanaimo yesterday.

Power was knocked out due to winds last night, Nov. 4. B.C. Hydro is aware of 30 areas in Nanaimo, and 5,954 customers, in the midst of outages, and Ted Olynyk, B.C. Hydro spokesperson said power has been restored to some 20,000 customers. He asks customers still without power be patient.

Workers are on scene, or have been assigned to some sites, while a number do not have any crew assigned as of 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5.

Olynyk said there were about 26,000 without power in Nanaimo at the peak and an operational update said all available crews and contractors worked throughout the night to repair and restore power. However downed trees are presenting a safety hazard, as certain areas are “too dangerous” to access for repairs, said B.C. Hydro.

Crews will continue with repairs to lines and poles, with work expected to continue through the day.

“Because of the extensive damage, repair work may take some time and could continue into tomorrow, especially for customers in more remote areas. However, crews are working as quickly as possible to get the largest number of customers restored as soon as possible,” B.C. Hydro said.

A wind warning was issued by Environment Canada last night, with northwesterly winds of 70 kilometres an hour, gusting to 90 km/h.

An atmospheric river had been forecast for the area with winds, but became, what Mike Gismondi, Environment Canada meteorologist called, “a cold front and a low pressure system.” It spoke to how weather can change quickly, he said.

“I think most of it was focused on the Lower Mainland, I don’t think east Island really had rainfall concerns there, but it was mostly in behind the system that the winds ended up being a little bit stronger than what we were expecting,” said Gismondi. “We issued the wind warning right as it was about to happen. Nanaimo Airport gusted up to 67 km/h. Entrance Island, I think it was 105 km/h. Most people probably live somewhere between the [two]. It could’ve been a little bit higher in places along the coast.”

While winds have died down, southeast winds of 40 km/h, gusting to 60 km/h are anticipated late this evening.

“It’s coming out of the southeast this time, so it’s ahead of the next system and typically the southeast winds aren’t as damaging for most places,” said Gismondi Saturday afternoon. “We have 40 gusting to 60. It doesn’t look like we’ll be issuing any wind warnings with that, and we also have some rain coming and then there’s a bit of a cooling trend going into next week.”

Geoff Whiting, Nanaimo Fire Rescue deputy chief of operations, said there were no reports of any injuries last night, only reports of downed power lines and trees.

“It was a really busy night for us between 8:30 p.m. to midnight, that’s when most of it hit,” said Whiting. “We had a couple of extra crews in and a lot of calls … I think we had about 20 lines down.”

Downed power lines should always be considered live and people should call 911 and stay at least 10 metres back as it is a “safety issue,” advised Olynyk and Whiting. Crews will work with first responders to ensure the area becomes safe.

Olynyk said crews are focused on getting power restored in the present, but will be on standby tonight.

“Every time we know it’s going to be a severe weather system people are going to be available,” said Olynyk. “This could be a multi-day outage for some customers, not sure if we’re going to get everybody on tonight, depending on the damage.”

For current information on outages go to www.bchydro.com/power-outages/app/outage-list.html#current-1602896846.

RELATED: Strong winds cause outages, cancel ferry sailings in Nanaimo

RELATED: Heavy wind, rain knock out power to tens of thousands in B.C.



karl.yu@nanaimobulletin.com

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