Vancouver recovering after powerful windstorm pummels Southern BC

BC Hydro said about 330,000 customers didn't have electricity on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and on the Sunshine Coast late Thursday afternoon. You can see the current status of outages here.

"Yesterday's windstorm was one of the most severe storms BC Hydro has experienced in years", a post on the utility's website said.

BC Hydro said the task of restoring power continues to be challenging and requires individual repairs in many cases, including re-stringing hundreds of spans of power lines and replacing power poles and transformers.

"We have brought in crews from other parts of the province to assist with our restoration efforts and we also have called the crews off their vacation time in order to assist as we work to get power back to all of our customers".

Sustained southeast winds of 50 to 80 km/h have already developed early this morning over much of the south coast and will increase to 70 to 90 km/h later this morning.

In Vancouver, 12th Avenue remained closed between Kingsway and Fraser Street, while crews worked to clear several large trees that were toppled and remove others that remained standing but were unstable.

The company said the rail line suffered extensive tidal erosion from the storm, and it had to dump multiple rail cars of rock to reinforce it.

"The Gulf islands are also very hard hit area".

It said the outage could last until between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Officials estimate about a section of the pier about 30 metres long collapsed, and that it could take months before it's fixed.

While the water is safe to drink, the city urged its residents and businesses to restrict their use until the full system is restored, in order to preserve enough for firefighting emergencies.

  • Eleanor Harrison