With a winter storm warning in effect for Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, BC Hydro says it is preparing for the possibility of significant damage.
The storm warning is in effect until Christmas Eve, with Environment and Climate Change Canada forecasting heavy snowfall turning into freezing rain and eventually rain as the temperatures warm up.
Snowfall amounts between 10 and 20 centimetres are expected along with poor visibility.
BC Hydro Vancouver Island and Sunshine Coast media relations manager Ted Olynyk says these types of storms can be particularly damaging because of the extra weight from the freezing rain.
“It’s a lot harder to make the repairs for that. You have the rain and moisture that will accumulate on the lines of our equipment, adding weight to the lines,” said Olynyk. “That in itself can cause problems but the bigger concern is all that extra heavy weight on vegetation and trees.
“Trees are already under a lot of stress because of the extreme conditions they’ve been put under for the past number of years now, going back to the heat dome.”
Olynyk adds the flora on the Island and Sunshine Coast is not meant to endure multiple droughts, making them weaker to resist winter storms.
The conditions mean falling branches and trees can pose a risk for people simply out for a walk.
The east coast of Vancouver Island is expected to be hit the hardest, according to Olynyk. However, he adds it is unpredictable where the storm will have the biggest impact.
“All we can do is simply respond and hope for the best and ask our customers to prepare,” said Olynyk.
He says BC Hydro is alerting all their employees who would be called out. They have also been clearing away more brush from power lines and using other tactics to prevent as many outages as possible.
For residents on the Island and Sunshine Coast, Olynyk says they should be prepared for a 72-hour power outage during this time of year.
“Anything that you need that you think you can’t do without for 72 hours, make sure you have that handy in your emergency kit,” said Olynyk.
He adds more tips and advice can be found on the BC Hydro website.
The frigid and stormy weather has been impacting much of the province over the last week, with BC Hydro reporting the highest energy consumption on record at 10,900 megawatts Wednesday night.