BC Hydro is calling the windstorm that struck the south coast last month and caused massive power outages across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, the most destructive in the company’s history.
In a report released Jan. 2, BC Hydro says the storm impacted more customers, caused more damage and required the largest mobilization of resources than any previous storm.
“Responding to this storm involved our biggest mobilization of crews, equipment and materials ever,” said Chris O’Riley, BC Hydro’s president and chief operating officer. “We had more than 900 field personnel working to repair damage to more than 1,900 spans of wire, 390 power poles, 700 cross-arms and 230 transformers.”
At its peak more than 750,000 customers were without power, making it more severe than the August 2015 windstorm that affected the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, and larger than the 2006 windstorm that hit Vancouver Island and devastated Stanley Park.
What made the storm so damaging is the fact that winds came from multiple directions. According to the report, this destabilized some trees and coupled with wind speeds in some areas topping 100 kilometres per hour and 400 millimetres of rain falling in some areas leading up to the storm, resulted in trees and branches crashing down on electrical equipment.
BC Hydro restored power to more than 550,000 customers in the first 24 hours, and all customers in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley were restored by Christmas Eve.
But the report points to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands as areas that were more problematic, both due to the extent of damage as well as difficulties in accessing areas due to downed trees and blocked roads.
“On behalf of BC Hydro, I want to sincerely thank our customers for their patience, and the kind words of support and encouragement. We also want to thank the many businesses – small and large – that supported our crews while they worked to restore the power,” adds O’Riley.
“Reflecting on how we can improve is an important part of how we debrief after every storm. We will continue to work on improving how we respond to storms so we will be ready for the next event Mother Nature throws at us.”
BC Hydro says all customers impacted by the Dec. 20 storm had power restored by mid-day Dec. 31.