POW! Prepare for storm season in Greater Victoria

Winter storms like the one that hit Oak Bay on Sunday likely not done yet

A man wearing a yellow raincoat stands on the edge of the Oak Bay Marina parking lot and lets waves crash over him. High winds Sunday kicked up big surf along the Greater Victoria coastline.

Sunday’s windstorm was an abnormality, but it may not be the last of the wild weather Oak Bay and the rest of the Capital Region sees this winter.

The high winds that regularly buffet the area at this time of year – gusts of close to 110 kilometres per hour were measured on the weekend – are expected to continue as the week progresses.

According to Environment Canada spokesperson David Jones, another system could move through today and Thursday that may lead to wind speeds approaching 70 kilometres per hour.

“There’s a little low that might create some grief if it sticks around, just crossing the southern part of the coast,” he said.

The blustery conditions on Sunday were the result of a “very intense” low-pressure system crossing the northern tip of Vancouver Island, Jones explained. But residents should consider themselves lucky that it wasn’t any worse.

“Thankfully it wasn’t still developing, still deepening, still intensifying as it moved towards the coast, otherwise it would have been all hell breaking loose,” Jones said.

Sunday’s blast caused widespread power outages that kept B.C. Hydro crews busy across the South Island for much of the day.

In Oak Bay alone, there were six separate outages, most of which were caused by downed trees which took out power lines. Of the six, four were isolated to the municipality, while the other two spilled over municipal boundaries into Saanich and Victoria.

The most significant incident restricted to Oak Bay knocked out power to 135 customers in the Uplands neighbourhood. The power was out for about five hours while a B.C. Hydro crew worked to remove the felled tree which caused the problem.

A separate incident on King George Terrace led fire and police officials to block off road access for nearly four hours while crews worked away.

“It was just a safety precaution,” said Oak Bay police Deputy Chief Kent Thom. He added that officers had a few “conversations” with confused motorists who tried to get into the restricted area.

There’s a “good chance” that South Island residents could see a repeat of Sunday’s conditions again before winter is through, Jones said.

Such weather should not come as a surprise to locals given the typical climate for this time of year, he added. But predicting future storms with any accuracy, beyond about five to seven days is difficult, Jones said.


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