BC Ferries cancels multiple crossings as Environment Canada warns of high winds

A passenger waits at BC Ferries’ Horseshoe Bay terminal in West Vancouver on January 3, 2020 (Ben Nelms / CBC – image credit)

Dozens of scheduled crossings between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland have been canceled by BC Ferries on Sunday due to high winds.

“This is not a decision we take lightly because we know our customers rely on us to get to their destinations,” Astrid Chang, director of corporate communications for BC Ferries, told CBC News . “With safety being our # 1 priority for our passengers and crew, we monitored the weather throughout the day and made the decision to cancel some crossings.”

She said the multiple navigation cancellations affected some major routes, including Swartz Bay to Tsawwaseen, Duke Point to Tsawwaseen and Comox to Powell River.

“We are also seeing navigation cancellations on some of our minor routes and modified schedules due to weather conditions.”

She said crossings on the Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay route are continuing.

“Our customer service teams are actively contacting customers who had reservations for these canceled crossings, refunding them and doing their best to help make alternate arrangements,” Chang said.

Wind warning issued for Sunday

Environment Canada issued wind warnings for much of Metro Vancouver on Sunday, including the Fraser Valley, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Canyon and Greater Victoria, as meteorologists expect winds from the southeast of 70 km / h and gusts to 90 km / h.

“We have a frontal system approaching the southern coast of British Columbia,” Environment Canada meteorologist Gary Dickinson said. “And those strong winds will continue until tonight and leave around midnight.”

He said the same system was bringing heavy amounts of snow into the Sea to Sky Corridor with around eight inches of snowpack in Squamish overnight on Saturday.

“Whistler also received 45cm of snow last night,” he said, “and we expect an additional 15 to 40 cm of snow today and an additional 15 cm tonight.”

A special weather report was also issued for areas such as Allison Pass on Route 3 near Manning Provincial Park, the Trans-Canada Highway, and Eagle Pass at Rogers Pass.

“The frontal system tries to push the cold air inside,” Dickinson said, “so therefore it produces all the snow.”

Avalanche Canada says the risk of avalanches along the southern coast, including on Vancouver Island, is “very high“until Monday, and warns against non-essential travel.

Power outages

More than 2,200 customers were without power in the Lower Mainland on Sunday afternoon.

Nearly 10,000 customers on northern Vancouver Island were also without power due to power lines that broke at 3:30 p.m., mainly in the Campbell River-Courtenay area.

Simi Heer, spokesperson for BC Hydro, said the snow that had rolled in the area was straining the crews, and said future conditions would be “difficult” in the future.

“We know it can be quite difficult and frustrating not to have electricity on Sunday of a statutory holiday weekend,” she said. “We thank customers for their patience. And I just want them to know that our teams are working as fast as they can.”

Heer urged people to be prepared for power outages keeping emergency supplies on hand, such as more snow is expected for the region overnight.