The first day of winter came in with a forceful blast on Monday, causing power outages for around 9,000 households on Salt Spring and North Pender Island after an unexpectedly heavy snowfall blanketed the region.
An Environment Canada weather alert issued over Sunday night had warned that some snowfall might occur in higher elevations, but most of the precipitation was predicted to arrive as heavy rain. That rain had turned to snow across much of Salt Spring by around 8 a.m. and power outages started to occur by late morning as the heavy snow brought down power lines.
BC Hydro issued a regional alert at 11:20 a.m. to say significant snowfall had caused power outages across the southern Vancouver area and that crews were responding.
Emcon Services was plowing the main roads but driving conditions remained difficult for much of the day. At 1:30 p.m., Salt Spring Fire Rescue crews were paged to gather at the island’s fire halls for quicker response to a high volume of related calls.
Salt Spring Emergency Services issued a notice at 2 p.m. asking island residents to stay home and off the roads, if possible.
Ferries between the mainland and Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands and Tsawwassen, were cancelled on Monday evening due to adverse weather warnings. As well, passengers on the 3 p.m. sailing from Swartz Bay to Fulford Harbour had to wait on the Skeena Queen before being able to disembark from the ferry in Fulford due to the power outage and ramp difficulties.