A tree crashed down near the footbridge at Puntledge Park Tuesday morning (Nov.17) following a strong windstorm in the Comox Valley. Photo by Erin Haluschak

VIDEO: Rain, snow, lightning, high winds batter Vancouver Island

Power out for many in West and North coast communities ferries set to resume this afternoon

6:30 a.m. update: BC Hydro restores power to 93 per cent of customers hit by Tuesday’s windstorm

BC Hydro crews made good progress yesterday and overnight, and have restored power to more than 121,000 customers since the windstorm began Tuesday morning. A total of 130,000 customers on Vancouver Island and the South Coast were impacted by yesterday’s storm.

About 9,000 customers primarily in Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Campbell River remain without power. The majority of these customers are without power due to a transmission outage in the northern region of Vancouver Island. BC Hydro plans to perform helicopter patrols at first light this morning to survey the damage to its transmission infrastructure from the air, and will then begin to make repairs.


Mother Nature brought a bit of everything to Vancouver Island last night and this morning: rain, snow, lightning, thunder and strong winds.

A winter storm system battered most of the Island Monday evening through Tuesday, knocking out power to large parts of the region, delaying and cancelling ferries and even closing some businesses due to an unexpected snowfall.

As of about 1 p.m. Tuesday, B.C. Hydro was reporting nearly 25,000 customers without power on the Island, the vast majority of them in the north. Many are in the Campbell River and Comox Valley areas, but Tofino, Ucluelet and the tri-Port area have been particularly hard hit.

As of 4:30 p.m., Hydro said it had safely restored power to 70 per cent of a total of nearly 118,000 customers impacted on Vancouver Island and the South Coast after today’s windstorm. About 36,000 customers remain without power, primarily in Courtenay, Port Hardy, Langley and Surrey.

“BC Hydro understands that outages are disruptive and it thanks its customers for their patience as crews work to repair the damage and restore power. Due to the extensive damage, some customers are expected to be without power overnight.”

Check with B.C. Hydro for the latest updates.

BC Ferries

B.C. Ferries has announced that sailings on the Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route would resume sailing after 3 p.m., sailings on the Duke Point-Tsawwassen route will resume as of 3:15 p.m. and sailings on the Departure Bay-Horseshoe Bay route will start up again as of 3:20 p.m.

This after several ferry sailings were cancelled Tuesday morning due to windy weather.

The 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. sailings both ways between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay were called off as strong gusty winds and a fast moving cold front cross the south coast. The 10:40 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. sailings in both directions between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay were also cancelled, as were the 10:15 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. sailings between Duke Point and Tsawwassen.

There have been a number of cancellations on minor routes as well; for information, click here.

BC Ferries had issued a service notice of many morning cancellations late Monday in anticipation of adverse weather conditions.

“The safety of our passengers and crew is of primary importance to us,” the corporation said in a posted statement. “We don’t take the decision to cancel sailings lightly, as we know customers rely on us to get to their destinations. We will resume service as soon as it is safe to do so.”

An Environment Canada weather alert says strong, sustained southeasterly winds are expected in coastal areas close to the Strait of Georgia and Haro Strait in advance of a cold front crossing the south. Gusts in excess of 90 km/h are possible.

Wind is expected to ease after the cold front but it will remain gusty into the afternoon.

The highest winds are expected to come ahead of a cold front that will cross the inner south coast Tuesday morning. Environment Canada expects winds to ease Tuesday afternoon as low and cold fronts move inland and weaken.

Environment Canada is predicting a wet week, at least until Sunday, Nov. 22, with rain and temperatures from 4C to 9C.

Comox Valley

What began as a typical November storm quickly turned into a rare meteorological event Monday evening (Nov.16) as a thundersnow — a winter thunderstorm — hit the Comox Valley.

A thundersnow occurs when lightning and thunder happen, but the main form of precipitation is snow, not rain. They are indeed rare events; according to the Royal Meteorological Society, a thundersnow occurs in only 0.07 per cent of snowstorms in the United States.

The Environment Canada weather station recorded 2.4cm of snowfall at the Comox Aiport, most of which was melted by Tuesday morning as temperatures rose rapidly overnight.

At noon Nov. 17, temperatures were 12C with wind gusts of 57 km/hr.

The weather agency did issue a wind warning for east Vancouver Island from Courtenay to Campbell River and Nanoose Bay to Fanny Bay for strong southeast winds of 70 to 90 km/hr, which are predicted to ease during the early afternoon as the low moves inland and weakens.

Campbell River

First it was the snowfall, then the Campbell River area got hit with very loud thunder and accompanying lightning on the evening of Nov. 16.

Facebook groups lit up with alarmed questions immediately after lightning flashes lit up the evening sky and then thunder rocked the night.

This was after the evening started out with a dump of wet snow.

Meanwhile, a wind warning was in effect for Tuesday morning (Nov. 17) for southeast winds of 70 to 90 km/h over East Vancouver Island. The winds were expected to ease by midday.

Campbell River was also hit with power outages throughout most of the city from downtown south to Jubilee Parkway.


In spite of dire predictions by Environment Canada that the Cowichan Valley should brace for strong winds on Tuesday morning, the area has escaped mostly unscathed.

As of 11:30 a.m. the only outage being reported in the Cowichan Valley was a large one affecting 713 BC Hydro customers along most of Youbou Road at Cowichan Lake.

The cause of the outage is under investigation with a crew on the way.

Greater Victoria

BC Hydro attributes the wind storm to a series of power outages in Highlands, Saanich and Central Saanich.

About 227 residences are without power in a swatch of rural area along Willis Point Road.

Power went down around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17 and a crew was on its way by 10:50 a.m.

Power also went down for about five customers in Langford – in the 3600-block of Highway 1 – attributed to trees on the wires.


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High waves in the Courtenay River by the 17th Street Bridge Tuesday (Nov.17) morning during a winter storm. Photo by Erin Haluschak

High waves in the Courtenay River by the 17th Street Bridge Tuesday (Nov.17) morning during a winter storm. Photo by Erin Haluschak