B.C. Hydro officials anticipate power to be restored to all of Nanaimo by later today, May 19, after strong winds May 18. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

B.C. Hydro officials anticipate power to be restored to all of Nanaimo by later today, May 19, after strong winds May 18. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Unseasonable windstorm challenging for hydro workers across Nanaimo region

B.C. Hydro working to restore power to 1,200 customers

More than 1,000 homes in Nanaimo were still without power after a windstrom caused outages across the region yesterday, but power is expected to be restored by tonight, May 19.

As of 2:30 p.m. today, there were close to 1,200 customers in Nanaimo without power, according to B.C. Hydro’s website, and Ted Olynyk, Hydro spokesperson, said Nanaimo was among areas hardest hit, with 20,000 customers without power at the storm’s peak.

“We expect to have everything in the Nanaimo area up tonight … A lot of crews are out and dealing with it,” Olynyk told the News Bulletin. “Our crews, contract crews, vegetation crews out there, restoring power, cleaning up the mess.”

Derek Lee, Environment Canada meteorologist, said winds reached a peak of 72 kilometres an hour at noon on Wednesday, May 18. He referred to the event as an “unseasonably strong low-pressure system” that brought the winds and said these types of systems are more common during the winter.

“It’s not impossible because it happens, but definitely the winds along the inner Georgia Strait were more southeasterly and that is a favourable direction for higher wind speeds…” said Lee. “It was southeasterly for a bit and then as a cold front moved into the area, things became more southwesterly, so we did have a prolonged period of wind.”

Olynyk echoed Lee’s sentiments, stating such winds are usually seen in the fall, which made conditions challenging.

“When we get stuff like this in the fall, it usually happens when trees are bare [with] no foliage … and the ground, in a lot of areas is still quite saturated. So all those factors make it a lot easier for trees to come over,” he said. “Add to that the extreme events we’ve had the last year or so put a lot of stress on vegetation, especially the heat dome.”

Other Island areas seeing strong winds, said Lee, were Victoria’s harbour at 78km/h and Victoria airport at 81 km/h, Tofino at 70km/h. The fiercest winds were at Herbert Island, near northern Vancouver Island, with winds of 111km/h.

RELATED: Windstorm causes tree to topple onto Nanaimo house



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