Wind warning persists for Vancouver Island’s south coast into this evening

Tuesday gusts close highway on both ends of the Island, current warning repeated only for Juan de Fuca area

  • Tue Dec 20th, 2016 3:00pm
  • News

Gusting winds toppled trees which closed the main highway on both ends of Vancouver Island this morning.

Environment Canada repeated a wind warning for the Strait of Juan de Fuca late this afternoon, after a similar warning for the south, north and west coasts of the Island was issued Tuesday morning in advance of winds that in some areas gusted between 70 and 110 kilometres per hour.

“Strong winds that may cause damage are expected or occurring,” the warning — issued at about 3:30 p.m. — said. “Strong westerly winds 70 gusting to 100 km/h have developed in Juan de Fuca Strait today in the wake of a low that moved into the BC Interior. The winds will diminish early this evening.

“Damage to buildings, such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur. Loose objects may be tossed by the wind and cause injury or damage.”

The warning came in the wake of a rough morning where one person is reported to have minor injuries after their vehicle was struck by a falling tree in Goldstream Provincial Park.

Traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway was closed in both directions for roughly two hours before crews were able to clear northbound lanes. Southbound lanes reopened shortly afterward at approximately 12:30 p.m.

Crews were busy clearing the debris from the roadway and falling other trees that posed a threat.

Winds also closed Highway 19 yesterday morning between Port Hardy and Port McNeill, and plunged parts of several North Island communities into darkness.

According to the Port McNeill RCMP office, winds knocked down trees near Orca Sand and Gravel, located between Port Hardy and Port McNeill, blocking the highway and taking power lines down with them impacting about 250 residences and some businesses.

In the south Island about 14,000 customers were affected by scattered outages across the region. According to BC Hydro, the effects were felt less along the east coast, with intermittent outages. Parksville was the community hardest hit with about 1,600 outages.

Winds diminished for all regions early yesterday afternoon as the low moved inland and weakened.

The wind wasn’t the only weapon Mother Nature was hurling at humanity.

Comox Valley RCMP are urging drivers to slow down following seven motor vehicle incidents in two-and-a-half hours Tuesday morning. One was a collision requiring medical attention, police confirm.

While the road appear to be wet with temperatures being just below freezing, there was black ice on many roads and highways in the area.

Police add a good rule of thumb in weather conditions such as this is if drivers don’t have to be on the road, stay home until temperatures rise and road conditions improve.

“At this time the Ministry of Highways is contemplating closing some roadways until conditions improve,” said Comox Valley RCMP Insp. Tim Walton Tuesday morning.  “… at this time Highway 19 north of Horne Lake and south of Cooke Creek is closed due to treacherous road conditions.”

Freezing rain that settled onto roadways as black ice wreaked havoc also plagued the Parksville area, with Oceanside RCMP logging more than a dozen motor vehicle incident calls from Monday morning through Tuesday morning.

“It definitely created dangerous driving conditions,” Oceanside RCMP spokesperson Jesse Foreman said Tuesday morning, when police, fire rescue and ambulance crews responded to at least six incidents in the local area.

He said the detachment attended another seven accident scenes Monday morning, after overnight rain on the heels of a weeklong cold snap left a sheen of ice coating roads, sidewalks and other surfaces.