FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. - Powerful winds that tore across northern B.C. on Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday left thousands in the dark, and some don't expect power to be restored for more than a day.

Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has opened a recreation centre in Fort Nelson so residents can find warm food and shelter.

Electricity to parts of that northeastern B.C. region was cut at around 8 p.m., Tuesday and BC Hydro estimates power to some homes may not be restored until 11 p.m. Wednesday.

Fortunately temperatures across the northeastern corner of the province are unseasonably mild, but that is little comfort to the estimated 15,000 Hydro customers from Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Houston and Smithers who are affected by the windstorm.

Environment Canada had lifted a wind warning for the South Peace River region by mid-morning Wednesday, although gusts were still forecast to reach up to 70 km/h.

Drive BC was maintaining a travel advisory warning for drivers about strong cross winds on roads east of Dawson Creek and Fort St. John. (MooseFM)

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  • A Gift From The Pacific

    The winds begin as <a href="" target="_blank">moist weather patterns originating off the Pacific coast</a>, cooling as they blow ashore and climb the western slopes of the Canadian Rockies and warming significantly as they drop down the eastern side of the mountains.

  • Very Strong Winds

    In southwestern Alberta, Chinook winds can hit hurricane-force speeds upwards of 120 kilometres per hour. According to Wikipedia, on November 19, 1962, <a href="" target="_blank">an especially powerful Chinook in Lethbridge gusted to 171 km/h</a>.

  • Extreme Gusts

    Trees have been known to bend and break due to these strong gusts.

  • A Brief Respite

    Chinooks happen most often over Southern Alberta in Canada, in the areas of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass through Lethbridge. These areas see <a href="" target="_blank">30 to 35 Chinook days per year</a>.

  • Extreme Temperature Swings

    A lot of people love Chinooks because of the warming effect they tend to have, bringing Southern Alberta out of often crippling cold temperatures. On Jan. 11, 1983, <a href="" target="_blank">the temperature in Calgary rose 30°C (from –17°C to 13°C) in 4 hours</a>, and on February 7, 1964, the temperature rose 28°C (51°F°), and the humidity dropped by 43 percent. In Pincher Creek, the temperature rose by 41°C from -19 to 22°C in one hour in 1962.

  • A Record High

    In February 1992, Chinook winds over Claresholm, Alberta brought temperatures soaring to 24°C – <a href="" target="_blank">one of Canada's highest February temperatures</a>.

  • The Chinook Arch

    Chinook winds often push clouds into a giant arch that moves quickly. Often the clouds can look threatening to those unfamiliar with them, but rarely do they bring with them rain or snow. They do, however, <a href="" target="_blank">allow for stunning sunrise and sunset views</a>.

  • Electric Charges

    A strong positive electrical charge in the air during a Chinook can cause <a href="" target="_blank">wire fences to become electrified</a>.

  • All Winter Long

    Chinook winds typically occur from November to April or May.

  • Hard On The Head

    Because of the pressure changes, susceptible people often complain of headaches or migraines.

  • Trouble Staying Calm

    Some people find it hard to sit still and shake or fidget - especially those who are highly strung or stressed out. Chinooks can also cause irritability and sleeplessness.

  • Where We Got The Word

    "Chinook" is an native word meaning “snow eater.”

  • A Hazard On The Roads

    The strong winds can make for treacherous driving conditions with blowing snow on the highway, creating large drifts. Semi-trailer trucks have been blown off the road and trains have been derailed.

  • Not Just A Canadian Thing

    Chinooks winds aren't limited to Alberta - they can occur almost anywhere that's on the <a href="" target="_blank">leeward side of a nearby mountain range</a>. In Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, it is called foehn, in Italy it is called sirocco and in Argentina it is known as zonda.

  • Click through to see some of the funniest, silliest and craziest questions tourists ask when they come to Alberta.

  • Q: How do you get the water so blue?

  • Q: What time of the year do they drain the lake and paint the bottom?

  • Q: At what elevation does an elk become a moose?

  • Q: How much does that mountain weigh?

  • Q: Which one is the Rocky Mountain?

  • Q: Where do you put the animals at night?

  • Q: How do the elk know they're supposed to cross at the "Elk Crossing" signs? (Which is totally reminiscent of <a href="" target="_blank">this bit of silliness heard a while ago</a>.) <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: Are the bears with collars tame? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: I saw an animal on the way to Banff today - could you tell me what it was? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: Did I miss the turnoff for Canada? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: Where does Alberta end and Canada begin? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: How far is Banff from Canada? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: Do they search you at the B.C. border? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: Is that two kilometers by foot or by car? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: Can we drive our car onto a glacier anywhere? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: Do we need snow tires or chains to drive to Lake Louise in July? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: Where are the igloos and the Eskimos? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: Can you see polar bears at the Columbia Icefield? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>

  • Q: What's the best trail to take a bike on to see a cougar? <a href="" target="_blank">Source</a>