Home Business & Economy Emergency Management Overnight snowfall produced power outages, snowdays

Overnight snowfall produced power outages, snowdays

snow, road
Snowy road on January 6, 2022 in the west shore, waiting to be cleared from overnight snowfall. [Island Social Trends]

Thursday January 6, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Last update: 10:20 pm]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

The snowfall overnight last night into this morning pushed changes in operations around south Vancouver Island today.

About 10 to 25 cm of the white wet stuff fell on most parts of the island (30 cm on the mid-island), depending on elevation and local conditions. But it’s apparently unusual for a weather alert that is similar for the entire island, said weather forecasters last night.

This snow was wetter (and heavier to shovel) than the snow that fell over Christmas and Boxing Day which was drier, fluffier and lighter weight. There was little to no wind today, but a wind warning has been issued for tomorrow January 7 for the Greater Victoria area.

drive bc, malahat, jan 5 2022
Snow on the Malahat at the summit, 5:30 pm January 5, 2022. [Drive BC]

Adjusting to new conditions:

That so many sectors of a functioning community almost spontaneously reacted into calling a snowday is as much about fatigue from ever-changing situations (COVID, economy, holiday season) as the snow conditions themselves. The combination of the two was like a one-two punch for some.

As well, so many things grinding to a halt today on south Vancouver Island due to snow is directly related to infrastructure and operational systems that aren’t suited to the weather that’s normal in the rest of southern Canada. In a way this heralding of climate change that’s here to stay, and says ‘welcome to the confederation’!


Campus closures due to snow and road conditions today included the University of Victoria and Camosun College. Many classes were already being run remotely, or hadn’t even yet started for the semester.

Today was a snowday for SD62 schools in the west shore (Langford, Colwood) and Sooke and Cowichan Valley schools (SD79). The impact was not as it would have been during a regular school week, as only children of essential workers and those with special learning needs have been in schools this week as a form of affordable child care support; all other K-12 students and families are still awaiting the return to class (set for January 10) due to schools needing time to prepare schools for expected staff shortages in the Omicron wave of the COVID pandemic.

power outage, port renfrew
Power outage in the Port Renfrew area on Jan 6, 2022. [BC Hydro]

Power outages:

Last night as snow accumulated on south Vancouver Island the first large outage areas were in Langford, Highlands, and west of Sooke.

By morning about 10,475 BC Hydro customers had power outages mostly on the Gulf Islands, and in North Saanich, Sidney, and Saanich.

walk safely, winter, kids

Power was off for 418 BC Hydro customers from 1:06 pm in the Port Renfrew area with crews on the way, expected to arrive around 4:30 p.m as posted by BC Hydro. Power was off for 59 customers from 1:17 am in the Willis Pt area (Brentwood Bay area), crews on the way.

As of 3:08 pm today, still 6,707 BC Hydro customers without power on South Vancouver Island since last night’s snowfall (approx 10 to 25 cm depending on location). Mostly the Gulf Islands but also Duncan, Cowichan, Saanich, North Saanich & Port Renfrew.

By 10:18 pm the number of power outages on South Vancouver Island was down to 1,035 (almost entirely on the Gulf Islands).

Emergency kits:

Juan de Fuca Emergency Program Coordinator Jeri Grant reminds people to have emergency kits ready for times like this. Kits for your home, car and workplace are good planning.

Kits for every member of your family (including your pets) should be ready at any time for up to a seven-day interruption. Remember to include batteries, an electronics charger, medications and other custom things for you and your family.


monk office

The snowday impact was also digging into the retail sector today. Monk Office said their stores in Royal Oak (Victoria), Courtenay and Duncan would have delayed openings or remain closed as staff dealt with snow and road conditions.

Retail stores may already be dealing with absenteeism due to the Omicron wave of the COVID pandemic. Public Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry suggested to businesses this week that they plan for operational adaptation to a workplace with fewer employees, in that a high level of COVID infection in the community is expected in the coming weeks. The Omicron variant is highly transmissible and has a short (three-day) incubation period.

Road conditions and bus routes:

Last night there were icy spots on Bear Mountain Parkway that sparked a closure for a couple of hours (between Echo Valley Drive and Nicklaus Drive, as advised by Langford Engineering), and there were plenty of advisories about avoiding travel on the Malahat stretch of Highway 1 where snow and ice conditions were more treacherous at higher elevations.

dumont tirecraft, winter road safety

Today the snow-related road conditions was the reason given that bus service was suspended in Greater Victoria. But BC Transit said Routes 50 and 70 due to road conditions but BC Transit said this morning that routes 50 and 70 would roll, but with a delayed start.

At 3:35 pm BC Transit announced the full cancellation of the following Greater Victoria routes for the rest of the day, citing safety as their top priority: 1, 12, 13, 35, 43, 46, 47, 48, 53, 56, 57, 63, 64, 65, 83, 85, 87 and 88.

BC Transit Senior Media Relations officer Jamie Weiss said their team was “working hard on maintaining service on the other routes to get you to your destination”.

All BC Transit bus routes were cancelled in Cowichan Valley in the morning.

Working from home:

People working from home already (due to Omicron wave public health recommendations) were also already home to shovel snow today!

Weather on Friday:

Temperatures will be warming overnight tonight (up to a high of about 6°C or 7°C degrees on Friday) and there will be rain. There’s also a wind warning for the Greater Victoria area for tomorrow (January 7) with winds up to 90 km/hour.

A sunny day is in the forecast for Sunday, but three days of rain next week (Monday through Wednesday, January 10 to 12).

===== RELATED:

More snow! January 5 & 6 (January 5, 2022)

Langford road conditions advisory prompted by lots of snow in forecast (December 29, 2021)

IST, new year
Mary P Brooke is the editor and publisher of Island Social Trends.