January 5, 2012 – Vancouver Island Pounded by Powerful Storm: A powerful storm crawled across Vancouver Island over the past two days, knocking out power to thousands, flooding roads and forcing ferry cancellations. About 6,000 homes were without power and flood warnings were in place Wednesday morning after heavy rains and hurricane-force winds battered central and northern portions of the Island. The frontal system moved in Tuesday afternoon, dragging with it up to 200 millimeters (8 inches) of rain and winds that reached 65 knots (75 MPH), or 120 kilometers per hour, in some areas. The strongest winds pummeled the northern tip of the Island, with most of the west coast seeing storm-force winds of up to 100 kilometer per hour (62 MPH). Power outage numbers by Wednesday were low considering the severity of the weather, but that changed with about 5,500 customers losing power in Nanaimo Wednesday morning. All of Gabriola Island and the Cedar-Yellow Point area south of Nanaimo lost electrical power as of 9:30AM due to downed power lines. The storm caused several other outages around the Island, including about 1,900 customers in Parksville Tuesday night and about 330 customers in Bamfield on the west coast.
“It was a powerful storm, and unfortunately it resulted in a large number of power outages;” said British Columbia Hydro spokesman Ted Olynyk. About 120 millimeters (4.7 inches) of rain fell on the east coast of the Island at British Columbia (B.C.) Hydro’s Cruikshank rain gauge, according to the B.C. River Forecast Centre. Commuters and commercial cargo faced delays on several of the B.C. Ferry routes that were cancelled throughout the night Tuesday. Two round trips between Powell River and Texada Island were cancelled, as well as two round trips between Quadra Island and Cortes Island. The B.C. River Forecast Centre maintained flood warnings for some areas as well, but damage to roads was minimal. A spokesman for the forecast center said there were closures on several service roads near Zeballos. The Transportation Ministry reported flooding on a 53 kilometer (33 mile) stretch of Highway 19 south of Campbell River. Warnings were still posted as of Wednesday evening. There were other reports of heavy rain on Highway 19 near Port Hardy and Courtenay, as well as water pooling near Fanny Bay. The weather system crawled across central Vancouver Island and slowly dissipated through Wednesday afternoon, but not before another 30 to 50 milometers (1.2 to 2 inches) of rain had fallen, according to environment Canada.
The Master of Disaster