Massive Metro Vancouver storm leads to power outages, fallen trees
WATCH: A recap of Saturday’s storms throughout the Lower Mainland
UPDATE: BC Hydro has provided estimates for when they expect power to be restored in the Metro Vancouver area
It’s being called the worst storm to hit the Lower Mainland in a decade.
Strong winds have led to power outages and fallen trees across parts of Metro Vancouver, and B.C. Hydro says this morning, approximately 200,000 customers are still without power.
Winds gusting up to 90 kilometres per hour and heavy rain forced the temporary closure of the PNE and Stanley Park, although the east side of the park re-opened Saturday afternoon.
WATCH: Full coverage of the storms that caused power outages for approximately 500,000 customers throughout the day
BC Hydro says approximately 500,000 customers were without power at some point during the day, including over 400,000 at its peak.
Most of the affected homes were in the Lower Mainland, including Surrey, Richmond, Abbotsford and the western Fraser Valley, according to BC Hydro.
BC Hydro spokewoman Simi Heer said the outages are due to trees and branches falling on power lines and crews are working hard to repair damage, but customers should be patient.
“Crews might simply have to remove a branch from a line, or they have to go in and repair the line or repair the pole,” she said. “Windstorms are challenging because the degree of damage is quite varied.”
Crews are coming in from as far away as Prince George to repair lines and clear roads – but many homes will be without power until tomorrow.
“[They’ve] been making progress and they’re getting to lines one at a time. We hope to have as many back on as soon as possible,” says Heer.
But specifics are unknown. BC Hydro’s website has been down all day, and they’ve been unable to provide estimates for specific neighbourhoods. They now say they hope to restore power to everyone by noon PT on Sunday.
WATCH: Toppling trees caused by storm causing fear
While the storm warning has lifted for the majority of Vancouver Island and the South Coast, the winds caused plenty of damage throughout the region this afternoon.
Downed trees and traffic light outages led to snarled traffic.
At the Mary Hill Bypass and other roadways, drivers got out of their cars to help clear trees off the road.
Surrey RCMP say they have responded to several wind-related calls, including one involving a pedestrian who was struck by a tree.
They say a female pedestrian was walking with her daughter along 100 Avenue when a tree fell on her. She was transported to Royal Columbian Hospital with life-threatening injuries. Her daughter managed to avoid the falling tree and escaped unharmed.
They are urging the public to avoid going outside unless absolutely necessary.
“There have been also been several near misses between trees and members of the public,” said Sgt. Bill Parmar. “The current storm is making it very dangerous for the public and the first responders.”
Abbotsford Police also urged residents to stay indoors. Metro Vancouver’s transit authority, TransLink, asked riders to avoid using the system if possible.
WATCH: Wind storm causes havoc throughout Metro Vancouver
TransLink says downed trees have led to delays on SkyTrain with no service between Metrotown and New Westminster stations. On the Millennium Line, service is operating between VCC-Clark and Columbia stations. Customers wishing to use the Millennium Line should transfer at Commercial-Broadway or Columbia.
The Coast Mountain Bus Company says the following routes are experiencing service delays, mostly due to road blockages: #321, #25, #97, #407, #335, and #701.
“Given there is a severe storm warming and people could face winds in excess of 90 kilometres later this evening, we’re recommending if you don’t have to go out using transit, not going out,” said TransLink spokesperson Anne Drennan.
BC Ferries tweeted that vessels travelling in and out of Tsawwassen may be delayed due to extreme wind.
A rainfall warning is also in effect for the Fraser Valley, Howe Sound, Whistler and the Sunshine Coast.
And at the Vancouver Zoo, a grizzly bear and several other animals were able to roam free after their fences were knocked over, forcing a lockdown.
PHOTOS: Windstorm lashes Metro Vancouver
-With files from Canadian Press
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