Wind storm causes minor damage in Saanich

Trees uprooted and branches fall during storm with wind gusts reaching 74 km/h

A child plays on a fallen Schubert chokecherry on the boulevard of Saanich Commonwealth Place on Sunday morning. The tree fell during the weekend windstorm which had repeated gusts of 50 km/h.

Heavy wind and rain from the weekend’s storm left minimal damage in Saanich but was felt nonetheless.

A number of Saanich stations from the locally based School Based Island Weather Network registered gusts up to 74 kilometres per hour (Lochside elementary school) and an hour-long average of gusts at 48 km/h (Craigflower elementary school). Meanwhile more than 11 millimetres of rain fell in a 48-hour window.

The combination downed several significant branches and a few trees including a sizable Schubert chokecherry (which are typically smaller) on the boulevard of Saanich Commonwealth Place along Elk Lake Drive.

“Full tree failures” are common in summer storm conditions, often due to the weight of the water and the timing of the season, as deciduous trees are “fully leafed out,” said Yann Gagnon, Saanich Parks supervisor of urban forestry, horticulture and natural areas.

“This [chokecherry] had decay which is not typical for its species. There’s not typically a windstorm this early, they’re usually in the wintertime when deciduous trees [such as the chokecherry] are typically leaf free.”

Most failures brought about by wind are because of structural decay or disease, he added.

Among the branches that fell in Saanich were limbs from Garry oak and big leaf maple.

The storm hit the South Island with less velocity than the 80 km/h winds Vancouver experienced.

That city released a bulletin over the weekend saying “City of Vancouver and Park Board crews are working around the clock to respond to more than 1,000 weather-related calls of debris, damage and flooding after the worst storm in almost a decade blew through the region on Saturday.”

Mainland residents endured power outages of up to 36 hours.

The summer’s drought certainly took a toll on urban forest canopy in Saanich – the soil is still so dry rainwater can’t saturate. However, a theory that the recent drought has led to more stressed trees is still just a theory, Gagnon said.



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