BC Hydro’s outage map Wednesday morning showed hundreds without power in the north Slocan and Arrow Lakes.

Windstorm downs power lines across swath of West Kootenay

Hundreds still without power on Wednesday morning

More than a thousand people in the West Kootenay remained without electricity Wednesday morning after a powerful windstorm blew through the area last night.

The storm left hundreds of downed trees across roads and power lines from Creston to Nakusp.

Dozens of fallen trees lay scattered along Highway 3A between Nelson and Castlegar as well, and small branches and twigs littered the roadway.

Several roads in Pass Creek, a subdivision north of Castlegar, were blocked from downed trees. Emergency and hydro repair crews were out trying to remove the fallen trees in the morning.

At the peak of the storm, around 3 a.m., more than 2,100 customers were without power, said a BC Hydro community relations officer. By 9:30, about 1,370 remained without electricity, mostly in the northern Slocan Valley, Arrow Lakes, Trout Lake and the Lardeau area.

“It was quite the storm,” said Jennifer Walker-Larsen.

Crews and contractors were being brought in from other regions to help restore power to affected areas, said Walker-Larsen.

She says they hope to have service restored to the Arrow Lakes area around lunch today, though there’s no estimate on other areas yet.

SEE: BC Hydro Outage map

Cold front to blame

A weather forecaster from the Southeast Fire Centre says the storm was caused by a cold front moving through the area.

“The wind effects of cold fronts in winter usually remain confined to the mid-to-upper elevations,” says Jesse Ellis. “It’s quite common for ski hills and passes to see high winds during such an event, while us here in the valley bottoms don’t often see much.

“But with this one, we did.”

The winds were highest in the East Kootenay, where gusts reached up to 100 km/h in the Rocky Mountain Trench and Elk Valleys.

Ellis says weather stations in this area picked up gusts as high as 70 km/h near Grand Forks, to 40-50 km/h in the Nakusp area. He cautions, however, the numbers are affected by the placement of the stations, and winds could have been higher in some areas.

Avoid downed lines

If you come across a downed power line, stay back, says Walker-Larsen.

“Stay away the length of a city bus, because you have to assume they are energized,” she says. “And call 9-1-1.”


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A tree blocks Pass Creek road near Goose Creek. Photo by Pam Malekow

Emergency crews monitor a power line downed by a fallen tree on Pass Creek Rd. Photo by Pam Malekow

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