Storm closes roads, cuts power to thousands on Vancouver Island

More than 10,000 people are still without power on southern Vancouver Island Wednesday afternoon after an overnight windstorm cut power to more than 100,000 people across B.C.

The storm downed trees and power lines, causing more than 22,000 people in Greater Victoria to lose electricity.

Environment Canada says wind gusts topped 100 km/h in the Victoria region. 

Good morning #Saanich. We are responding to several reports of trees on roads and hydro lines down. Please take care driving today and report any obstructions or safety concerns on the roads to us.

— Saanich Police (@SaanichPolice) January 13, 2021

Downed power lines in Oak Bay sparked a fire in a tree overnight, according to the Oak Bay Fire Department. 

Oak Bay Fire Crews attended high voltage power lines that had ignited a nearby tree due to high winds early this morning. Crews maintained a large safety perimeter until very busy BC Hydro Crews could attend. Very dangerous, always stay well clear and call 911. pic.twitter.com/HtWF0a3Gg9

— OakBayFire (@OakBayFireDept) January 13, 2021

More than 2,000 customers on the North Island were also in the dark Wednesday morning and outages were reported across the southern Gulf Islands.

Students at Greater Victoria's Strawberry Vale Elementary school were being kept away Wednesday as an ongoing power outage closed the school.

School buses in Sooke were also reporting lengthy delays in picking up students in the morning. 

The Sooke Potholes remain closed to visitors until further notice due downed trees and wires. 

A large fir tree crashed through the roof of a home in Sooke. The woman inside the home was uninjured but damage to the home and adjacent shed are extensive.

An Environment Canada wind warning says westerly winds up to 70km/h were expected to continue into the afternoon for Greater Victoria and the Gulf Islands.

A 70-kilometre stretch of Highway 14 between Sooke and Port Renfrew was closed to traffic due to downed wires.

Drive BC also reported two road closures in Shawnigan Lake due to downed power lines but there were detours in effect for both.

At the height of the storm, more than 100,000 BC Hydro customers were without power across the province. A full list of current power outages on Vancouver Island and across B.C. is available here

Downed trees and limbs narrowly missed landing on campers in Victoria's Stadacona Park. 

There have been no injuries reported among campers in the park Wednesday. 

Camper Ron Beland says a tree landed on his tent around 1:30 a.m. 

"It sounded like a rushing train going by," Beland told CTV News on Wednesday. "I thought somebody was playing a joke on me or something."

"I tried to get out and I was trapped," he added. "I tought it was (just) a branch but I come out and the whole tree is on me."

The tree broke one of his tent poles but he's grateful he was not injured. "Somebody's looking after me," he said. "I just gotta laugh about this because I should be dead."

The storm also dumped snow across the central Interior with the Columbia, Shuswap and Yoho regions expected to receive as much as another 25 centimetres of snow before the system passes.

The weather office says a new storm is approaching B.C.'s north coast and a wind warning has been issued for Haida Gwaii, with gusts up to 100 km/h due to lash that region through Thursday.

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