Lightning strike downs tree onto vehicles; thousands without power in Cowichan Valley

A loud bang from their driveway at approximately 7:50 a.m. Friday morning awoke Kim and Denise Phillips with a start.

UPDATED to add: second tree downed on North Cowichan councillor Tom Walker’s property. Read below for more details

A loud bang from their driveway at approximately 7:50 a.m. Friday morning awoke Kim and Denise Phillips with a start.

The couple, who live on Timbercrest Drive in Duncan, were astounded to see that an old oak tree in the front yard of their property had been struck by lightning during the ongoing series of wind and rain storms that are hitting the Cowichan Valley and Vancouver Island.

Kim said the lightning strike, which had completely severed the approximately 25-metre high tree at about six metres from the ground, resulted in much of the top part of the tree falling onto his 2003 Ford Ranger and his neighbour’s car, causing yet-to-be determined damage to both vehicles.

“We’re waiting for ICBC to drop by to assess the damage before we do anything to get the vehicles out from under the tree,” Kim said.

“I know we’re in for more stormy weather over the next few days, but I guess we don’t have much to worry about here anymore as that was the only tree on the property that we were worried about.”

Tom Walker, a councillor with the Municipality of North Cowichan, also had a tree on his property hit by lightning at approximately the same time on nearby York Road.

Walker said a large Douglas fir tree on his lawn was struck, taking the top off and showering splinters and pieces of wood all over his house and property.

“This was the third time in my life that I was close to a lightning strike, and I knew that there must have been other lightning strikes nearby as well,” he said.

Approximately 4,000 BC Hydro customers in the Cowichan Valley lost their power early Friday morning as the second in a series of powerful storms hit the area, bringing heavy showers and strong winds.

But the worst is yet to come, according to Environment Canada, with the remnants of the powerful Typhoon Songda expected to arrive on Saturday.

That system could bring as much as 100 millimetres of rain to the region, along with winds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.

BC Hydro spokesman Ted Olynyk said power has been restored to most residences and businesses in the Valley who were in the dark early Friday morning, with the rest expected to be restored during the day.

He said work crews have been mobilized and are preparing to work all weekend as the next round of foul weather arrives.

“We’re ready, but it’s all up to Mother nature now,” he said.