01/22/2012 04:28 EST | Updated 03/23/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. Wind Storm Knocks Out Power, Ferries

Getty Images

An intense wind storm knocked out power to thousands of BC Hydro customers and forced BC Ferries to suspend service between the mainland and Vancouver Island on Sunday.

Ferry service was briefly restored Sunday afternoon as the 2 p.m. PT Vancouver to Victoria sailing ran as scheduled, but service was pulled once again just under an hour later.

BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said it was not clear if service would be restored by Sunday evening.

"We have had to suspend service on the majority of runs between the northern Gulf Islands and also the three major routes connecting Vancouver Island and the mainland. We have had to suspend service there as well," Marshall told CBC News Sunday morning.

"We are closely monitoring the weather situation but ... we will have to wait for the wind to die down."

BC Ferries announced Sunday morning all Vancouver-Nanaimo and Tsawwassen-Victoria sailings were cancelled until further notice.

Thousands without power

Environment Canada issued wind warnings for much of the central and south coasts as well as Vancouver Island. Officials warned residents to expect "potentially damaging" wind gusts of up to 100 km/h.

The wind storm also knocked out power to just over 20,000 BC Hydro customers on Vancouver Island.

The hardest hit areas were in and around Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay, Sooke, Colwood,Langford, Campbell River and Nanaimo.

By Sunday afternoon, power had been restored to about 5,000 customers.