VANCOUVER — A vigorous cold front swept across southern British Columbia on Tuesday, bringing gale-force winds that cut power to tens of thousands of BC Hydro customers.
The utility provided ongoing updates online that showed nearly 48,000 customers had lost electricity by early evening across the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast. It said strong winds had caused 236 outages.
On southern Vancouver Island, nearly 32,000 customers were affected at one point, while 119 separate outages were reported.
BC Hydro spokeswoman Mora Scott said just over 90,000 customers experienced outages across the province, with most occurring between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.
She said the severe weather caused the most damage in Victoria, Duncan, Abbotsford and Chilliwack, where crews would be working into the night to restore power.
Earlier Tuesday, Environment Canada issued a wind warning for Metro Vancouver, parts of the Fraser Valley, Greater Victoria and West Vancouver Island.
Gusts up to 80 kilometres per hour were recorded at Victoria's airport, while another weather station on the Trial Islands, just to the south, were rocked by winds racing up to 124 kilometres per hour.
"That's hurricane-force wind speeds,'' said Matt MacDonald, a warning preparedness meteorologist based in Vancouver.
"You can imagine driving down the highway at 120 kilometres per hour and sticking your face out the window — [that's] what that would feel like.''
In Abbotsford, the gusts soared to at least 83 kilometres per hour. Vancouver's winds reached at least 57 kilometres per hour and were expected to grow stronger later in the day, he added.
The conditions resulted from a cold front and the centre of a low pressure system that was tracking directly across Vancouver Island and into the Interior, MacDonald said.
He added the weather was severe but not particularly unusual because the fall months are B.C.'s stormiest.
Up to 30 millimetres of rain was predicted into the evening in Howe Sound and eastern portions of the Fraser Valley.
The weather was forecast to let up by about sunset, MacDonald said. British Columbians should expect a reprieve, including even a bit of sun, on Wednesday, he said.
BC Ferries was reporting some sailing cancellations and schedule delays due to the blustery weather. Extreme weather, including pounding rains, also cancelled some ferry sailings Monday.
Winds and waves caused a portion of Vancouver's Stanley Park seawall to collapse on Sunday. The Vancouver Park Board closed it indefinitely for repairs.
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