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A year ago, windstorm brought out the best in BC Hydro

Furry Creek's Greg McMillan hopped aboard his stand-up paddleboard to brave the August 29, 2015 windstorm, and reached speeds of up to 25 kilometres per hour on the board.
The big windstorm of August 29, 2015 was fun for Furry Creek's Greg McMillan, who reached speeds of up to 25 kph on his stand-up paddleboard. But it was anything but fun for half of BC Hydro's customers on the south coast who lost power in the wake of the unusual late-summer storm. (Photo courtesy Greg McMillan)

A look back at the big windstorm of August 29, 2015

A year ago today, the southwest corner of B.C. was hit by a quick and intense windstorm that surprised national weather agencies. They had predicted there would be a storm that Saturday morning, but severely underestimated the strength of winds, which gusted up to 115 kilometres per hour and forced the temporary closure of the PNE and Stanley Park.

Drought-weakened trees split open, broke or were simply torn out by the roots, falling on power lines to cause widespread power outages. In the hours following the storm, about half of all BC Hydro customers in the Lower Mainland and parts of Vancouver Island experienced some sort of outage. But over a span of 72 hours, BC Hydro crews managed to restore power to more than 700,000 customers.

Never before had BC Hydro restored power to so many customers so quickly.

Crews replaced about 200 power poles and responded to 2,400 "trouble calls" or individual work orders. In a normal month there are 2,000 such calls across the whole province. We needed to call in workers from across B.C. – from Smithers to Port Alberni and Fort St. John – to get the job done. Restoration efforts were hampered at times by adverse weather, and water-saturated soil in certain areas made it unsafe for crews to bring in heavy equipment for repairs.

What do you remember about the windstorm? To refresh your memory, take a look at the Weather Network's 10 photos of damage caused by the storm.

Uprooted tree blocks traffic at Nelson and Howe streets in Vancouver during August 29, 2015 windstorm.
An uprooted tree blocks Nelson Street in downtown Vancouver, the result of the August 29, 2015 windstorm that hit B.C.'s south coast.

Make sure you're prepared for the next big storm or emergency

As was proved by the storm of 2015, it's never too early to start preparing for storms, future power outages and other emergencies, including earthquakes. Make sure you have well-stocked emergency kits and plans for your families and businesses.

And if you come across a fallen power line, it should be considered live. Stay 10 metres back – about the length of a bus – and call us at 1 888 POWERON (1 888 769 3766) to report the exact location.

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