Wind storm leaves 23,000 without power in Surrey

METRO VANCOUVER – A wind storm lashed B.C.’s south coast overnight, knocking down trees and causing road closures, ferry delays, and power outages for tens of thousands of residents.

A Surrey mother and her five-year-old child were briefly trapped after a tree crashed through into the bedroom of a Surrey couple.

Surrey Fire battalion chief Reo Jerome said the incident happened shortly before 11 p.m. in the 12900-block of 58th Avenue and “freaked out” the woman. When emergency crews arrived they helped the mother and child out of the house. He said the woman, her husband and the child were shaken but otherwise okay.

The house has significant damage, he said.

Jerome said Surrey Fire received 250 calls overnight, most of which were about branches down on power lines, but there were also some fire-related calls, minor injury reports and trees down on the railway tracks.

As the storm settled early Wednesday morning, more than 30,000 BC Hydro customers were still without power in Metro Vancouver, after more than 80,000 were without electricity overnight.

As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, BC Hydro reported that 23,000 Surrey residents were still without power.

Doug Strachan, spokesperson for the Surrey School District, said some schools were without power Wednesday morning, but as of 9 a.m., it appeared all would remain open.

“There appear to be some out there that don’t have power but we are carrying on. I’m waiting for word if there’s some complications that we have to send students home but so far we’re going on," Strachan said.

Mora Scott, a spokeswoman with BC Hydro, said 25 significant power lines were knocked down by trees, wind and branches. She said crews worked overnight and hope to have most of the power restored by noon, however some customers may have to wait until later in the day.

Meantime, The Vancouver Sun and The Province newspapers may be late for some customers after a power failure last night at the printing press. An email was expected to go out to subscribers to let them know about the possible delay.

Although a wind warning has been lifted, Environment Canada says a rainfall warning remains in effect in Metro Vancouver, Howe Sound and Whistler.

Wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres an hour forced BC Ferries to delay the sailing between Vancouver and Nanaimo early Wednesday and from across the region social media users were posting updates about debris, trees and branches on the roads.

“Did we have a storm in Vancouver overnight or something? Debris and branches all over the roads this morning,” tweets Landon, while emergency scanner reports on Twitter reported several trees coming down on homes in Surrey. Radio traffic reports said 148th Street in Surrey was closed Wednesday morning because of a power line and tree down on the road.

Environment Canada posted a heavy rainfall warning on Tuesday for the Sunshine Coast, with up to about 60 millimetres of rain expected last night. The rain storm there caused a washout on Port Mellon Highway. According to Drive BC, the highway is closed in both directions, six kilometres north of Junction with Highway 101 and there is no estimated time for it to reopen.

Also Tuesday, Environment Canada issued a wind warning for Metro Vancouver, saying that strong winds up to 80 km/h may cause damage. The warning says those high winds should ease overnight as the low moves into the Interior.

Heavy downpours can cause flash floods and water pooling on roads, said Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist.

“There are a series of storms. One for tonight and tomorrow and then something else for later in the week,” he said, predicting high winds during a storm on Friday.

Lundquist said the series of storms are typical for this time of year, but recommended people clear leaves out of their gutters and prepare for winter conditions on the roads.

Some of B.C.’s higher elevation passes such as Kootenay Pass could be hit with snow this weekend, he said. “By early next week I think it’s almost certain we will see those passes get white, and even the freezing level will get low enough that we will see start to see snow on the Coquihalla.”

Meteorologists with AccuWeather Global Weather Center say storms are lining up over the northern Pacific, and will hit B.C. and the northwestern United States this week into early next week.

The agency’s senior meteorologist Bernie Rayno says the storms will bring heavy rain to coastal areas, soaking Victoria and Vancouver, He says the rain could be heavy enough “to cause flash flooding and mudslides.”

Forecasters also say that some of the moisture and wind from tropical storm Ana may help fuel the storm off the coast of the Northwest.

“That system may then plow onshore during the first part of next week with heavy rain and gusty winds,” said Henry Margusity, another senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.

ticrawford@vancouversun.com

With a file from The Canadian Press

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