Power outages, essential travel only after heavy snow on salt spring

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Salt Spring Island’s emergency program is warning people to undertake essential travel only as the island remains under a winter storm warning after heavy snow Wednesday night. 

A 10:45 a.m. Thursday update from the emergency program confirmed that travel on roads and ferries may be difficult today, and informed islanders to be ready for further power outages ahead. 

“As the temperature climbs and we start to get rain this will increase the weight loading on the trees of the snow and will start breaking branches and trees which may compromise Hydro lines further and result in further power outages today and this evening,” the update stated. 

The emergency program advised residents should only undertake essential travel, although transit is still running on the main routes and Fulford-Ganges Road is “clear but slushy in spots.” The update stated side roads are beginning to be cleared but this will take time. 

BC Hydro is reporting outages at nine locations on Salt Spring Island as of noon Thursday, including 71 customers along North Beach and Walkers Hook roads, 41 along Musgrave Road and a number of smaller outages.

A large swathe of the eastern part of Salt Spring and most of North Pender Island was without power this morning, affecting 2,819 customers, with power back on before noon.

Ferry service was affected by the heavy snowfall overnight, including the Skeena Queen which services the Fulford Harbour to Swartz Bay route having its 7 a.m. sailing from Swartz Bay cancelled. Sailings between 6 and 7:40 a.m. between Crofton and Vesuvius Bay were cancelled due to heavy snow. The Quinitsa resumed its 8:20 a.m. sailing from Vesuvius Bay. 

The 7 a.m. sailing from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay was cancelled, and the Swartz Bay to Southern Gulf Islands route serviced by the Mayne Queen was 23 minutes behind schedule this morning due to delays caused partly by heavy snow.

For ferry updates, see @BCFerries on Twitter, the current conditions page or call 1-888-223-3779.

Businesses and organizations also closed for the day Thursday, including the Salt Spring Island Public Library and post office.

An Environment Canada weather warning for the Southern Gulf Islands Wednesday morning warned that the heavy snowfall from overnight will mix with rain or patchy freezing rain. Freezing rain is more of a risk throughout the morning changing to rain by early afternoon. The warning states roads could be icy and slippery and visibility could be impacted. 

Very little additional snowfall is expected after the 10 to 20 centimetres overnight, Environment Canada stated, with trace amounts to 2 centimetres forecast for Thursday.

“Be prepared, please check on your neighbours,” the emergency program update stated. “And stay home and stay safe until this passes in a few days.”

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