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Holiday storms showing higher frequency, stronger: BC Hydro

Harsh winter storms in the province appear to be coming more frequently and are getting stronger over the last five years.

The finding comes from a recent report, where BC Hydro says the average number of people affected by storms between mid-December and mid-January has risen over 500 per cent.

They add a recent survey suggests nearly 90 per cent of British Columbians have experienced at least one weather-related power outage during the holidays in recent years, with many during the last two.

So far in 2022, an early January snowstorm left around 180,000 customers without power in the Lower Mainland and parts of Vancouver Island. The year before, a mid-January snowstorm affected 220,000.

The numbers are compared to 2017, where 150,000 customers were impacted by an ice-strom in the Lower Mainland.

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BC Hydro spokesperson Susie Rieder says the storms are increasing mainly because of climate change, and significant damage is happening more frequently.

“BC Hydro has experienced at least one storm causing significant damage to its system almost every year during the holiday season for the past decade, including the worst storm in its history that happened just before Christmas in 2018, impacting over 750,000 customers,” said Rieder.

Often conflicting with holiday plans, Vancouver Islanders are the most likely to report a disruption caused by a storm. Despite this, nearly 60 per cent of respondents in the survey said they want to see snowfall over the holiday season this year.

The report findings come as another winter storm is expected to hit parts of Vancouver Island from Nanaimo and south to Greater Victoria, bringing around 20 centimetres of snow with it.

With the weather on the way, RCMP are reminding drivers that the speed limit is the maximum and not the requirement.

Comox Valley RCMP say they observed many drivers slowing down and driving to conditions, but add if you are observed not driving to conditions you could face a $167 fine.

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BC Hydro recommends customers get prepared for potential outages with the following:

  • Having a well-stocked emergency kit with supplies for each member of the household for at least 72 hours
  • Developing a preparedness plan and sharing it with everyone in your home
  • Checking emergency equipment periodically (flashlights, radios, generators, etc.) to make sure they are in working order
  • Using surge protectors to protect your electronic devices such as computers, printers, and televisions
  • Developing a list of important local telephone numbers. Include numbers for police, fire, poison control centre and BC Hydro
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