Wind warnings lifted for Greater Victoria, Gulf Islands, Nanaimo

Update: Wind warnings that were in place for Greater Victoria, the Gulf Islands and eastern Vancouver Island, including Nanaimo, have been lifted.

Power outages due to tree across wires were reported in Duncan, Metchosin, Sooke, Pender Island and Salt Spring Island. By 10 a.m., about 1,700 customers remained without power.

Highway 14 west of Sooke was closed due to downed power lines.

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Wind warnings are in effect as another winter storm is forecast to hit Greater Victoria, the Gulf Islands, and eastern and inland Vancouver Island.

The warning comes on the heels of a rainstorm that caused floods, road closures and mudslides, and just weeks after the Dec. 20 storm that B.C. Hydro said was the worst it has seen.

Environment Canada posted wind warnings for Greater Victoria, the Gulf Islands and eastern Vancouver Island south of Nanaimo on Saturday, warning of southwest winds of up to 70 kilometres an hour with gusts up to 90 km/h. The high winds are expected to arrive Sunday morning and drive inland by the afternoon.

The weather forecaster also posted a special weather statement for inland Vancouver Island, forecasting strong and gusty winds beginning early Sunday morning.

B.C. Hydro spokesman Ted Olynyk said the utility is prepared, but was not expecting the windstorm to be severe.

However, he conceded that trees were weakened in the Dec. 20 storm and the soil underneath them is that much wetter after this week’s rainstorm. “It won’t take much more than the breath of a butterfly to bring some things down,” he said. The question, Olynyk said, is which ones and where.

The December storm saw winds in the range of 70 to 100 km/h, with gusts topping 100 km/h in some areas. More than 350,000 customers on the Island were left without power, and repairs in some areas took nearly two weeks.

Environment Canada said the precise track of the approaching weather system is uncertain, which “creates some uncertainty in the timing and maximum strength of the winds.”

A wind warning was first posted for Greater Victoria, where certainty of strong winds was highest, and special weather statements were issued for the Gulf Islands and inland and eastern Vancouver Island. As meteorologists tracked the low pressure system and information was updated, the special weather statements evolved into wind warnings.

Heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday led to flooding and road closures in several areas. High streamflow advisories were cancelled for several areas, including Port Alberni, Parksville, Qualicum and surround areas.

On Saturday, Shawnigan Lake-Mill Bay Road remained closed due to flooding and Stewart Road on Salt Spring Island was closed due to a mudslide.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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