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Update: High winds play havoc across Greater Victoria

Jan 23 2012
Conor McDiarmid stands as a wave crashes around him at a McNeill Bay lookout in Oak Bay during the windstorm on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012.  

Conor McDiarmid stands as a wave crashes around him at a McNeill Bay lookout in Oak Bay during the windstorm on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012.

Photograph by: Adrian Lam, timescolonist.com

We'd love to see your weather photos send them to web@timescolonist.com

Strong winds blasted Victoria Sunday, cancelling ferry sailings and flights in and out of the city as well as knocking out power to thousands of customers.

Environment Canada issued wind warnings for Greater Victoria that saw southeast winds gusting up to 110 km/h.

Travelling between Vancouver Island and the mainland was difficult. Harbour Air cancelled all its flights for the day due to the weather. But the wind had minor impact at Victoria International Airport with two Air Canada Express flights cancelled Sunday morning, in addition to a few delays.

Anyone intending to fly Sunday or to pick up passengers was advised to check victoriaairport.com for current departure and arrival information.

Helijet flights proceeded throughout the day with no delays, said Troy MacDonald, director of sales.

B.C. Ferries cancelled most of its runs to and from Vancouver Island, including the three main routes that carry most traffic to Nanaimo and Victoria terminals.

Four morning sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay left on time Sunday, but most sailings after 9 a.m. were cancelled.

The Spirit of British Columbia sailed from Tsawwassen at 2:19 p.m., nearly 20 minutes behind schedule, but a 3 p.m. sailing was cancelled.

Weather had also prevented seven sailings between Tsawwassen to Departure Bay as of late Sunday afternoon. Five other sailings were cancelled between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay.

“We will be watching the weather throughout the day, but at this point we don’t know when we will resume ferry service,” said B.C. Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall.

Click here to check the ferry schedule.

The wind started to hit the capital around 8 a.m. with 48 km/h recorded at the airport, gusting to 65 km/h.

School weather stations around the city, including Reynolds Secondary and Esquimalt High, recorded gusts of around 75 km/h.

Stronger winds were felt at the waterfront throughout the day. Environment Canada forecast the wind to abate by early Monday.

Most power outages were caused by downed trees. About 18,000 customers were without power by Sunday afternoon. Of those affected, about 13,500 customers were in the south Island, and another 2,900 in the north Island.

Crews worked all day to restore the electricity, but reports of downed power lines continued throughout the day.

Late Sunday morning, about 7,500 customers were without power in communities along the Saanich Peninsula. By late afternoon, most of those had had their power restored. About 5,000 customers on the West Shore were without power.

Oak Bay police and firefighters closed the intersection intersection of Beach Drive and King George Terrace after branches crashed onto nearby power lines.

Parts of North Saanich and Sidney lost power at 6:30 Sunday morning.

A fallen tree stopped traffic on the Malahat near Goldstream Park early Sunday afternoon, but crews had vehicles moving normally within the hour.

Environment Canada reported that an intense low-pressure centre generated strong winds gusting 100 km/h over south coast regions. Winds of up to 110 km/h were reported over west Vancouver Island and exposed coastal sections of the central and northern parts of the Island.

It wasn’t all bad.

Pedestrians enjoyed playing in the ocean spray along parts of Beach Drive in Oak Bay as waves crashed into the shore, flinging water across the road.

Conor McDiarmid stood at one of the lookout points at McNeill Bay, bracing for wave after wave that nearly drenched his clothing.

“I’m just getting out to enjoy the weather,” he said on his walk home, just blocks away.

dspalding@timescolonist.com

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