Vancouver Island villages without power for days, northern BC under weather warning


VANCOUVER – Warnings of snowfall and extreme cold blanketed northern British Columbia on Saturday, as two remote communities on Vancouver Island entered their fifth day without power due to winter storms.

BC Hydro President and CEO Chris O’Riley said in a statement posted on Twitter that crews were facing particularly difficult conditions repairing power lines to Tahsis and Zeballos.

Major repairs are expected to be completed on Sunday, when the lines could be re-energized, he said, although more work may be needed to fully restore power. Several important structures were damaged on the line.

“Due to its remote location, a helicopter is required to make repairs and our crews have been at the mercy of weather windows to be able to fly safely, while facing deep snow shoulders in some areas,” he said. O’Riley said.

BC Hydro’s website showed that 711 customers in communities on Vancouver Island’s northwest coast have been without power since Tuesday.

Winter storms have ravaged British Columbia in recent weeks, bringing unusual amounts of snow and freezing temperatures to places like Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island.

On Saturday, weather warnings were concentrated in northern British Columbia, while more populous areas in southern British Columbia saw less severe weather reports in effect.

“Right now we’re looking at a fairly large system growing up the coast of British Columbia, but fortunately most of the snow associated with it will remain north of the Lower Mainland,” said Gregg Walters, meteorologist at Environment and climate change. Canada.

A northeastern moving Pacific frontal system reported heavy snow and extreme cold warnings in areas such as Prince George, Quesnel, the Bulkley Valley and other districts.

Environment Canada warned that a frontal system near the Yukon border would push wind chill temperatures to near or below -45C.

A warning for the central coast near Bella Bella said a low pressure system would bring two to three inches of snow before turning to rain at midday on Saturday.

Special weather reports warned of snow mixed with rain in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, eastern Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

There was also a risk of freezing rain for the Fraser Valley, he said.

“It may be a bit of a concern, but we’re not going to see close to the snowfall events that we saw on Wednesday and Thursday,” Walters said.

The prolonged cold spell is caused in part by entrenched arctic air over the interior of the province that seeped to the coast over creeks and valleys, he added. .

The agency warned drivers to prepare to adapt to changing road conditions, noting that winter conditions can deteriorate quickly.

“Public Safety Canada encourages everyone to develop an emergency plan and obtain an emergency kit containing clean water, food, medicine, a first aid kit and a flashlight,” indicates the warning.

DriveBC has also warned of a high avalanche risk and freeway closures along stretches of Highways 1, 3, 12, 16, 31 and 99.

The Transportation Department said in a statement that sections of Highways 1 and 3 have been closed since Thursday due to the risk, as well as significant avalanche deposits on the highway.

“The teams are working to clear the deposits after receiving permission from the avalanche team,” the statement said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 8, 2022.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

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