Power restored to most BC Hydro customers affected by April snowfall on Vancouver Island

Nearly 30,000 BC Hydro customers north of Nanaimo were without power for several hours Sunday morning as crews dealt with the effects of a rare April snow storm.

In a video update posted on Twitter just after 3:30 pm, BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk said the outage began when a tree came down on a transmission line.

Roughly 40,000 customers were affected by the initial outage, but crews were able to quickly reroute transmission to restore power to roughly 10,000 people, Olynyk said.

As of noon, the power company’s online outage list showed more than 28,000 customers in Parksville and Qualicum Beach without power, with most of the outages attributed to a “transmission circuit failure” that began around 9 am

The causes of other outages included downed wires and trees, and two incidents were blamed simply on “snow storm.”

“It was a heavy, wet snow,” Olynyk said. “It brought down trees and branches across our lines.”

He said all of the customers affected by the transmission line issue had seen their power restored, but some smaller, local outages remained. As of 4 pm, BC Hydro’s online outage list showed slightly fewer than 1,100 customers affected by outages in the region.

“We want to thank our customers for their patience during this period,” Olynyk said. “I know it was an unexpected event, but it reminds us to always be prepared. Make sure you’ve got your emergency kit. Storms can happen not only in November and December, but they can also happen in April and, of course, all throughout the year.”

Many island residents awoke to find snow on the ground Sunday, with accumulations as high as 20 centimeters in some areas, according to Olynyk.

DriveBC’s highway cameras showed snow on the ground at the Malahat Summit throughout the morning, and some island residents, even at lower elevations, shared images of their unexpectedly white backyards on social media.

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