Strong winds cause havoc, cancel ferries

A strong low pressure system slid over the region Monday morning, bringing strong winds and rain.

A strong low pressure system slid over the region Monday morning just before dawn, bringing with it strong southeasterly gusts that reached 100 kilometres per hour and driving rain in Nanaimo.

The storm caused widespread power outages and ferry cancellations, and closed Ross Road between Emerald and Howden drives because of a downed tree. Many social media users reported debris on local roadways, throwing a wrench into the first commute of the week for many, though no major incidents were reported.

Two schools in the Nanaimo school district were closed due to power outages; Gabriola and South Wellington elementary schools were closed while Cedar Secondary, North Cedar Intermediate and Woodbank Primary remained open but were also without power.

David Jones, Environment Canada meteorologist, said the storm packed some punch.

“It’s a very deep low crossing Vancouver Island and it’s dragging a cold front across the area,” he said. “It’s a really intense storm, but if it tracked a little bit further south it would have been even worse.”

Ted Olynyk, B.C. Hydro spokesman, said about 7,600 Nanaimo customers were without power when the storm peaked between 7-8 a.m.

Most of the reported outages were in the Cedar area as well as south Nanaimo.

Along the south coast, 112,000 B.C. Hydro customers lost power, with almost 95,000 of those on Vancouver Island.

Ferry travel between Vancouver Island and the mainland was also halted as conditions in Georgia Strait saw wind speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.

Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman, said the day’s first sailings from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay and Tsawwassen were cancelled, as were 11 other routes in the region, including Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen.

The MV Quinsam sailed between downtown Nanaimo and Gabriola Island, though it was about 30 minutes behind schedule due to a power outage on Gabriola.

Entrance Island experienced wind gusts of 91 kilometres per hour at 7 a.m. Monday, though the strongest winds on the Island were in Campbell River at 132 km/h at about the same time.

Winds abated to about 40 km/h Monday afternoon as the front passed by, though rain is expected to persist throughout the work week.

Nanaimo News Bulletin