'It was fast and it was pretty furious': Thousands without power as storm pummels Okanagan

Strong winds left more than 100,000 British Columbians without power Wednesday morning, and Vernon is one of the hardest-hit areas, according to BC Hydro.

The company said a windstorm sweeping across the province caused trees and branches to break, causing extensive damage to its electrical system.

“It was fast and it was pretty furious,” BC Hydro spokesperson Dag Sharman said.

At its peak, the storm had knocked out power to approximately 34,000 BC Hydro customers in the Southern Interior alone, Sharman said.

“A lot of those are separate outages, which presents a big challenge for us,” he added, noting that there were more than 50 different power outages in just the Vernon area.

“This type of storm means that people may be out longer than they would in other situations because there are just so many sites that we have to get to,” Sharman said.

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Power lines are toppled over along Westside Road near Traders Cove in the Okanagan.

Power lines are toppled over along Westside Road near Traders Cove in the Okanagan.

Dan Couch / Global News

Sharman said BC Hydro often calls in crews from other areas, but the storm also hit the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

“There were so many places geographically that were hit by this storm that they needed the crews there in those places,” he said.

Crews will continue to restore power for people throughout the day, but there still might be small pockets of customers left without electricity overnight, Sharman said.

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BC Hydro is reminding people to stay at least 10 metres back from a downed power line and call 911 immediately.

Meanwhile, in a news release, the City of Vernon said a tree and power lines have fallen across Eastside Road near the turnoff to Russell Road, causing a temporary closure of both roads.

Megan Turcato / Global News

Megan Turcato / Global News

Vernon Fire Rescue Services and public works crews are on scene, and the road is expected to remain closed while power lines are repaired and the area cleared.

No injuries have been reported at this time, according to the City of Vernon.

Big White Ski Resort said on its Facebook page that electricity was out until about 9:30 a.m.

While there was no power, the ski hill said chairlifts were not running because electricity was needed to de-ice the top.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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