Wild, wooly, windy weather ushers in new season

It may have started earlier than usual, but storm season hit Vancouver Island and the Comox Valley on Monday with a forceful introduction.

It may have started earlier than usual, but storm season hit Vancouver Island and the Comox Valley on Monday with a forceful introduction.Environment Canada reported wind gusts at the Comox weather station as high as 91 km/h around 1 p.m., and many areas of the Valley were without power and some BC Ferry sailings out of Comox were cancelled.”(The storm) was not usual — it’s about a month early,” said John McIntyre, meteorologist with Environment Canada. “It went from summer to fall in an instant.”McIntyre said the cause of the storm surge that hit the area and the entire Island was a combination of typhoons and storms off the coast of Japan and the Far East as well as a strong low pressure front that slammed the Island. “This does happen occasionally, but usually it’s later on in the year,” he added.As of Tuesday morning, both Hornby and Denman islands still remained in the dark, with small pockets in the Valley waiting for their power to return.”The Comox Valley was one of the hardest hit areas (across the Island),” said Karla Louwers, community relations spokesperson for BC Hydro. “At it’s peak, there were 26,000 customers without power on Vancouver Island, and just under 11,000 in the Comox Valley without power.”Louwers noted hydro lines are made to withstand wind gusts, but the main culprits of power outages in storms are trees damaging lines.She added on Tuesday morning, hydro crews were patrolling Denman and Hornby islands with a helicopter, as they were having trouble locating the source of the power outage. Because of the storm and recent rainfall, BC Hydro will increase the water release from the Comox Dam from approximately 32 cubic metres per second to 110 cubic metres per second.The increase in the Puntledge River will be in place Friday night through early Monday morning. The planned water release is for flood risk management and to bring the Comox Lake reservoir level down for future storms.With strong wind gusts in the Strait of Georgia, BC Ferries cancelled some sailings in the Comox Valley until conditions subsided.The Queen of Chilliwack, running between Comox and Powell River had six of its morning and afternoon sailings cancelled. Service resumed at 7 p.m. Monday, while the MV Kahloke running between Denman and Hornby Island was held in dock at Shingle Spit until 4 p.m.According to McIntyre, the Comox Valley and Vancouver Island is looking at a La Niña pattern for the rest of this year and into the winter season. “This means temperatures below normal, with precipitation levels at normal, but when there used to be rain, expect snow,” he added.photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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