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Thousands without power, ferries cancelled as windstorm hits islands

More than 12,000 B.C. Hydro customers on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands are without power Monday morning.

More than 12,000 B.C. Hydro customers on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands are without power Monday morning.

A wind warning issued by Environment Canada remains in place this morning, forecasting southeasterly winds of 70 kilometres an hour gusting to 90 km/h.

The wind is expected to continue through to this afternoon. More than 8,000 customers without power this morning are on the Gulf Islands.

B.C. Ferries has cancelled most of its sailings off Vancouver Island until further notice. “We will resume service as soon as it is safe to do so,” the ferry service says.

Customers with reservations are being advised of the cancellation and will automatically receive refund. B.C. Ferries advises travellers to watch its website for updates.

The outages and cancelled sailings are due to an intense low pressure centre approaching Vancouver Island that continues to bring strong winds to the south coast today.

Coastal areas from Victoria to Swartz Bay, as well as the Southern Gulf Islands are seeing southeasterly winds of about 80 km/h this morning.

Winds are expected to begin to ease late this afternoon as the low pressure centre moves onshore.

Greater Victoria was hit by sustained southeast winds of 30 km/h with gusts to 50 km/h for much of Sunday. Wind gusts intensified to 60 to 70 km/h on Sunday night, and the strong winds are forecast to continue into Monday evening. Coastal areas can expect winds of 70 km/h gusting to 90 km/h. 

North Vancouver Island can expect southeast winds of 70 to 90 km/h with gusts exceeding 100 km/h, Environment Canada said. East-west valleys on the Island could be hit by winds of 60 to 70 km/h with gusts to 90.

On Monday morning, the wind will strengthen in western sections of Metro Vancouver, with gusts exceeding 80 km/h; they’ll ease in the evening.

“As of now, there is increasing confidence for the strongest winds to be over West Vancouver Island and that the low pressure system will track across just north of central Vancouver Island on Monday evening,” Environment Canada said in a special weather statement on Sunday afternoon.

Power outages were reported all over Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands on Sunday. Many of the problems were traced to trees falling onto wires because of strong winds. Lightning caused an outage in Port Alberni.

Customers at Sechelt and on Texada, Gambier and Keats islands were told that the power will be out overnight but repair crews will be on the scene Monday morning. Cortes Island is expected to be without power until Monday night because multiple wire spans have been knocked down and repair crews are waiting for ferry service.