White Rock Farmers’ Market vendor Karen Brandson posted this post-wind photo to Facebook Sunday night, showing some of the mess created by the windstorm. Brandson’s caption noted she “felt like crying but tried to laugh instead.” (Facebook photo)

VIDEO: Windstorm packs wallop on White Rock market

Last market of the season closes early for safety reasons

Sunday’s windstorm wreaked havoc on the White Rock Farmers’ Market – prompting an early closure on its last day of the season – but organizers say the experience hasn’t swayed their enthusiasm for the uptown location.

It also reminded them of the kindness of strangers, as market visitors were quick to lend a hand to prevent injuries and further damage.

“Considering what came through that site yesterday, I think we were lucky (there were no injuries),” market manager Helen Fathers said Monday.

“We are so thankful to those people who were onsite. Everybody pitched in.”

Environment Canada had warned residents Saturday that winds could hit up to 80 km/h in parts of the Lower Mainland the following day, due to a strong ridge of high pressure pushing southward overnight, bringing outflow winds from the northeast.

According to BC Hydro’s website, more than 6,000 customers in Surrey and Langley were without power Sunday as a result of trees down across power lines.

Fathers, a White Rock council member, said the gusts hit the market – which operates during the summer season in the Miramar Village plaza – between noon and 1 p.m.

“It was interesting because it was a beautiful day… then all of a sudden, the volume went from zero to 100,” she said.

“It was like an explosion.”

A video posted to Facebook shows people scrambling to take down tents and secure other items.

White Rock resident Tony Roy said he took the 93-second clip at about 12:30 p.m., shortly after arriving at the market, as the wind started to pick up.

“People were sort of laughing (the wind) off, until the tables began flying,” Roy told Peace Arch News.

“It was a vicious wind.”

One vendor described the experience as “absolutely terrifying.”

“A little bit later a gust came through and picked up our three tables, all loaded with heavy things, tipped them over and sent the smallest one airborne,” Karen Brandson wrote on Facebook, in response to Roy’s video.

“Took us nearly two hours to sort out our mess and get stuff organized and packed up.”

Roy said he stopped recording the chaos when a table fell over nearby; he put his phone away to lend a hand, he said.

Fathers estimated the high winds continued for about 40 minutes. Damage included two snapped tents, and smashed jars of jam and juice.

She noted market policy does require vendors to weight any tents down, and many use bags of sand to do so. But they had little effect Sunday, she said.

While the wind did die down, a decision was made to close the market early. It normally runs until 2 p.m.

“It was just too hazardous,” Fathers said.

And though the wind delivered a wallop to the market, the day’s balmy 22-degree temperature put White Rock tops in B.C. for weather, breaking the city’s own 86-year-old record.

Of 10 weather records broken in the province yesterday, White Rock’s was the oldest – the last, 18.9 degrees – was set in 1929 by just over three degrees.

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