Wind leaves thousands without power on South Island

Wednesday’s windstorm left thousands of residents without power and put a halt to most harbour air traffic. 

“The wind shut (most of) the float planes down today,” said Jim Honeyman, manager of Nav Canada air traffic services.

Environment Canada’s severe wind warning did play out, but farther north than projected, said Environment Canada meteorologist Dave Wray.

Winds gusted up to 160 km/hr on Vancouver Island’s northwest tip, but in Victoria, gusts maxed out at 70 km/hr at 5 a.m., he said. Sustained winds of 50 to 60 km/hr continued for several hours.

In the core, wind toppled three trees in different locations, cutting electricity to 240 households minutes before 5 a.m. The biggest blackout, affecting 494 households, happened along Dallas Road, west of Beacon Hill Park and as far north as Niagara Street. 

Victoria city parks crews responded to one fallen tree and several fallen branches. 

“We operationalized the Emergency Operations Centre at a low level in the event winds picked up, but it was concluded around 1 p.m. today,” said city spokesperson Katie Josephson. 

B.C. Ferries cancelled all sailings between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen terminals until 3 p.m.

But not everyone operating in the air and sea were affected.

It was all systems go for military operations at CFB Esquimalt. Even a Sea King helicopter live-fire exercise taking place in the Strait of Juan de Fuca went ahead as scheduled starting Wednesday.

Two naval ships were able to dock in Esquimalt Harbour Wednesday morning in fine shape, said Sara Helmeczi, base public affairs officer. She added the base ferry which runs between Colwood and Esquimalt was unaffected.

“I think the harbour is a bit more protected here,” she said. 

Flights in and out of Victoria International Airport did not experience delays due to wind.  

Wind gusts, rather than a constant gale, meant there wasn’t a challenging crosswind to deal with, said airport authority spokesperson Terry Stewart.

Victoria Harbour was also cushioned from air currents blowing out of the east. 

“We always worry what’s going to happen,” said Harbour Master Dave Featherby, who works out of Fisherman’s Wharf.

“If it comes out of the southwest, it puts bigger swells into the harbour,” he said.

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