News / Vancouver

Winds halt ferries, cut power on B.C. coast

'Damaging winds' strand thousands at terminals, down electric lines, as B.C. Ferries resume service backlogged

Think winds were bad in B.C. on Monday, Nov. 13? These waves sent salt spray onto homes in Seattle on Puget Sound during the windstorm Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, where thousands of people lost power in western Washington state as well as B.C.'s south coast.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Think winds were bad in B.C. on Monday, Nov. 13? These waves sent salt spray onto homes in Seattle on Puget Sound during the windstorm Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, where thousands of people lost power in western Washington state as well as B.C.'s south coast.

After multiple ferry cancellations due to "damaging wind" warnings Monday, thousands of travelers finally began moving again after spending the holiday stranded at B.C. Ferries terminals.

The Crown corporation announced that its services would resume starting 3 p.m. — but not without a significant traffic backlog and sailings "still weather dependent and will be delayed," it said in a statement. "The safety of our passengers and crew is of primary importance to us. We don’t take the decision to cancel sailings lightly."

The cancellations came after Environment Canada issued wind warnings in the morning, with gusts reported up to 80 kilometres per hour in Metro Vancouver and over the Strait of Georgia.

One traveler, Samantha Wolf, set out for a morning ferry from Victoria at 8:30 a.m. but spent most of the day waiting in the terminal. Winds weren't as strong there as Vancouver, she reported, "but it did pick up quite a bit around 1 p.m.," she told Metro. "I went to get some air, but when I tried to open my door all of a sudden the wind caught my door and it was blown open — I couldn't close it."

Wolf finally drove onto a vessel at 4 p.m.

"I used to live in Victoria and I've never seen the terminal that busy before, even after a long weekend," she told Metro. "We went into the cafeteria area and there were a ridiculous amount of people crammed into a small space, just sitting wherever they could.

High winds reaching 70 km/h during a storm cancelled B.C. Ferries sailings Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 and cut power to thousands on the south coast. Ferries resumed after 3 p.m.

Courtesy Greg Kieltyka

High winds reaching 70 km/h during a storm cancelled B.C. Ferries sailings Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 and cut power to thousands on the south coast. Ferries resumed after 3 p.m.

"People seemed slightly frustrated — especially with the food selection, it looked like they were running out of a lot of stuff."

The storm saw six sailings cancelled between Vancouver and Victoria, as well as six sailings to and from Nanaimo — four of them because the Queen of Coquitlam ship had to be docked "due to a mechanical difficulty" with a propeller, B.C. Ferries stated.

Winds also cut power across the region in what federal meteorologists called "an intense low pressure system" moving across Vancouver Island and strong southerly winds across the "entire south coast."

The city of Comox, Port Alberni, parts of Salt Spring Island, roughlu half of Gabriola and all of Pender, were without power Monday, according to B.C. Hydro, which estimated that rouhgly 1,500 people were also without power in Nanaimo that morning.

"High winds may toss loose objects or cause tree branches to break," Environment Canada warned Monday.

Many ferry travelers' ordeal was encapsulated on the BCFerrys parody Twitter account, which tweeted Monday: "High winds in Strait – Continent cut off."

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